An African National Congress (ANC) councillor in Soweto has proposed a R150 electricity flat rate for residents of the township.
Mpho Sesedinyane told Fin24 that the flat rate could help foster a culture of payment among Sowetans and reduce their debt to state power utility Eskom.
Soweto currently owes Eskom a staggering R18 billion in unpaid electricity bills, according to its latest annual report.
‘Culture of non-payment’
Sesedinyane said the township’s culture of non-payment of electricity can be traced back to the days of apartheid, when leaders urged them to boycott payments.
He said the ANC needs to embark on a campaign to explain to residents that it’s now necessary to pay for services.
“We need to bring them back and say, ‘We have won the country now. It is us [the ANC] that are governing now. Can we now start to contribute and pay Eskom,” the councillor explained.
He said the idea of a flat rate was first raised by the South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO), an ANC alliance partner.
LLHRF’s court action against Eskom
Another community organisation, the Lungelo Lethu Human Rights Foundation (LLHRF), has also proposed a flat rate of R100 per household per month.
It has moved to court to seek an order compelling Eskom to reconnect power to about 250 Soweto households that were disconnected for non-payment.
LLHRF’s president King Sibiya said they also want to compel Eskom to begin negotiations on their R100 flat-rate proposal.
He said, “We want to [end] the culture of non-payment in Soweto. We can’t divorce ourselves from Eskom. A R100 flat rate from those who haven’t been paying is better than nothing.”
However, Eskom spokesperson Dikatso Mothae told IOL earlier this month that it is the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), not Eskom, that has the power to regulate electricity tariffs.
He added that Eskom is therefore unable to “negotiate” separate tariffs for Soweto and that a flat rate “could lead to wasteful usage of electricity.”