Makhubo taken to task for joining Soweto marchers calling for R150 electricity flat rate

Geoff Makhubo.
Geoff Makhubo.
Image: Robert Tshabalala

Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo came under fire on Thursday at the council sitting for joining a Soweto protest calling for electricity flat rate.

Makhubo was taken to task by City of Johannesburg councillors for joining dozens of Soweto residents who were yesterday protesting over what they called abnormal loadshedding and also called for Eskom to implement a R150 electricity flat rate for all households.

His participation in the march raised eyebrows, with questions raised on whether the ANC was marching against the ANC. Both the EFF and the DA said  if Makhubo was advocating for a flat rate in Soweto, then he must do the same in all the other Johannesburg communities.

EFF’s Musa Novela said all residents of Johannesburg were feeling the pinch of high electricity costs.

“We have to say this, more especially in light of the developments of yesterday in Soweto, that if you are going to advocate for a flat rate for Soweto residents, you must do the same for Alexandra residents, you must do the same for Ivory Park, you must do the same for Diepsloot, for Orange Farm … because they too, like the people of Soweto, cannot afford to pay for electricity,” Novela said.

The DA’s Funzi Ngobeni also raised the same issue, saying that Makhubo was actually contradicting finance minister Tito Mboweni’s user-pay principle.

Makhubo said that he did not advocate for the flat rate but that he had joined the march because he wanted Eskom to solve the loadshedding problems. He said that “at no point” did he call for the flat rate and that he would never make such a call.

However, Makhubo was accused of misleading the council and  Johannesburg residents and that he joined the march because he agreed with the marchers' memorandum which called for the flat rate.

The councillors said that his mere presence at the march showed that he was agreeing to the flat rate and that it was alarming. “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t go to the march and the basis of it is flat rate and then come here and say ‘I was not supporting the flat rate’,” Ngobeni said.

Ngobeni said Makhubo must clarify if he was misleading the council or if he was misleading the marchers he joined on Wednesday. In defence, Makhubo said that his presence did not mean he agreed with everything the marchers were saying.​

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