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'Electricity hike will hit poor hardest'

By Anna Majavu | Oct 14, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

COSATU says Eskom's request for a whopping 45 percent 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 are continuing to fund big industrial electricity users such as the aluminium smelters in KwaZulu-Natal, 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 that it was forced to increase electricity prices because it cost them more to make electricity. Motau added that the price of coal had fallen by 59,2percent over the past year.

ID MP Lance Greyling said 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 tariff hike. He said for the parastatal to project a shortfall of more than R60million points to mismanagement and incompetence at the highest levels for a sustained period of time.

"There are many examples of Eskom and government, who themselves are supposed to lead energy policy but have failed dismally, wasting money and forcing ordinary citizens to foot the bill for their ineptitude.

"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 government to radically shake up Eskom, its structures and processes, the interactions between Eskom and the electricity regulator Nersa, and to fast-track dialogue between all parties and stakeholders on alternatives for power production in South Africa.


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