Black First Land First (BLF) leader Andile Mngxitama has expressed support for the Soweto shutdown, a protest held earlier this week by Soweto residents against Eskom.
The residents protested against “unfair treatment” by Eskom on the basis that they are from a “low-paying area.”
They cited prolonged load shedding and electricity disconnections due to non-payment as examples of this unfair treatment.
‘A moral and ethical argument’
In his blog Black Opinion on Wednesday, Mngxitama said he supports the Sowetans’ demands because “free electricity is a right.”
He wrote, “There’s a big argument for why we must give people free electricity. The first is a moral and ethical argument.
“Just like free education. Just like free healthcare. It’s not a question of costs. It’s a basic need. It’s a basic right. Therefore you must give it to the people.
“Free education is a right; free healthcare is a right; free electricity is a right; and we must get these things without paying for them.”
‘Coal is a God-given free product’
The controversial BLF leader added that there is no reason to pay for electricity because it is generated from coal, which is a “God-given free product.”
He said free electricity should only be for household consumption and “industry, on the other hand, must pay very high tariffs to use energy because energy is generated by the state.”
Mngxitama concluded, “Soweto is correct; we must be like Soweto. Free electricity is possible. Stop being a promoter of the ideas of the ruling class which are basically harmful to the interests of the people.”
Earlier this week, Eskom said government provisions allow indigent people to get free electricity, but this is administered by municipalities according to their own criteria.
“In the case of Soweto, the City of Johannesburg administers this process. Customers are encouraged to partake so they can benefit as this will alleviate pressure,” it said.
Soweto still owes the struggling power utility a staggering R18 billion in unpaid electricity bills. During the shutdown, its residents offered to pay a flat rate of R150 per household per month.
To read Mngxitama’s article on his blog, click here.