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DA to oppose 18.65% electricity tariff increase in court

A group of top lawyers threaten government, Eskom with similar action

Nomazima Nkosi Senior reporter
DA Federal leader John Steenhuisen.
DA Federal leader John Steenhuisen.
Image: Darren Stewart

The DA wants the High Court of South Africa to declare the 18.65% tariff increase granted to Eskom to be declared unconstitutional, invalid and set aside.

DA leader John Steenhuisen announced he had instructed the party's lawyers to approach the superior court of law in the country for an interdict to stop the implementation of this tariff increase.

Last week, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) granted Eskom a 18.65% tariff increase after having asked for 32%.

Steenhuisen said South Africans who had spent a third of 2022 in darkness and burdened with indefinite Stage 6 loadshedding, were now expected to also pay for the looting and mismanagement of Eskom through exorbitant tariff increases.

Keep in mind that electricity tariffs have already increased by more than 650% since this crisis started in 2007, which is quadruple the inflation rate over the same period.

“The DA rejects this tariff increase by Nersa. We reject Stage 6 loadshedding, and we reject government’s poor response — or rather, lack of response — to the biggest crisis our country has faced in the history of our democracy,” Steenhuisen said.

The DA also wants the court to declare government's response to the energy crisis declared invalid as having failed to respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill of Rights.

“As part of this application, we will also ask that the court direct government to file, within 30 days, a comprehensive plan, including short-term, medium-term and long-term steps, to avert the energy crisis.

“It has become clear that government will not act in the interests of the citizens of this country, including protecting them from blackouts and unaffordable electricity tariffs, unless compelled by a court of law to do so,” he said.

Meanwhile, on Monday seven high-profile lawyers representing political parties, NPOs and businesses have written to public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter threatening legal action if loadshedding is not stopped.

The group is also demanding that government does not go ahead with the implementation of the 18.65% electricity increase granted to Eskom.

Alternatively, they also demanded a specific timetable for when loadshedding would end, and the reasons for the timetable.

They said the state should develop and make publicly available a clear plan to end loadshedding, which must include the resources available to ensure it was realised.

The group is represented by Mabuza Attorneys and at least six other law firms  — Buthelezi Vilakazi Inc, Makangela Mtungani Inc, Mketsu & Associates Inc, Mphahlele & Masipa Inc, Madlanga & Partners Inc and Ntanga Nkuhlu Inc Attorneys.

The lawyers say that should their demands not be met by Friday, January 20, they would approach the courts.

The firms represent 10 clients that include UDM president Bantu Holomisa, founder of Build One South Africa Mmusi Maimane, the IFP, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), Researcher at Rivonia Circle Lukhona Mnguni, Ikasi Farming owner Phiwe Mehlo, real estate agent Ntsikiie Mgayiya, Zibuyisile Sibiya CEO of The Circle, Mastered Seed Foundation and Zintle Ncalo the director of Fula Property Investment.

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