Sowetan: ‘Electricity hike will hit poor hardest’

‘Electricity hike will hit poor hardest’

14 October 2009
Anna Majavu

OUTRAGE: Eskom’s proposed tariff rise has been slammed from many quarters. PHOTO: MARIANNE SCHWANKHART

COSATU says Eskom’s request for a whopping 45percent a year electricity tariff hike over the next three years will destroy small businesses and force the poor to abandon electricity completely.

“Many of the poor will not be able to afford electricity at all and will turn to more dangerous sources of heat and light, such as paraffin and gas,” said Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven.

Craven said consumers fund big industrial electricity users , which pay far less for electricity than ordinary people.

Abahlali base Mjondolo president S’bu Zikode said shack dwellers could not even afford today’s tariff.

“I’m thinking of the shack fires that are caused because people don’t have electricity. The increase will make it worse,” Zikode said.

DA MP Sejamothopo Motau said his party blamed the ANC for mismanaging Eskom.

Motau said Eskom could not prove it was forced to increase electricity prices because it cost them more to make electricity. He said that the price of coal had fallen by 59,2percent over the past year.

ID MP Lance Greyling said the government should double the amount of free electricity it gives to the poor to cushion them against the high price.

Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter expressed outrage at the proposed hike. He said to project a shortfall of more than R60million points to mismanagement and incompetence at the highest levels .

“There are many examples of Eskom and government, who are supposed to lead energy policy , wasting money and forcing ordinary citizens to foot the bill .

“How much longer can the poorest of the poor afford to drop money into the black hole that is Eskom? South Africans deserve better,” he said.

Cope called for the government to radically shake up Eskom, and to fast-track dialogue on alternatives for power production .

? If a household pays R200 for a month’s electricity now, their rates will increase to R290 next year, R420,50 in 2011 and R609,50 in 2012.

? If a household pays R350 now, their rates will increase to R507,50 next year, R735,88 in 2011 and R1067,02 in 2012.

? If a household pays R2500 now, their rates will increase to R3625 next year, R5256,25 in 2011 and R7621,56 in 2012.