Issued on behalf of Executive Mayor Leon Van Wyk by George Municipal Communications Department
As Executive Mayor of George Municipality, I have today written to both NERSA and the CEO of Eskom on behalf of the citizens of George to appeal to them not to proceed with proposed 20,5% increase in Eskom tariffs.
It is simply unfair, unjustified and unaffordable for citizens to continue to be burdened by increases in excess of the inflation rate. Many citizens are struggling to make ends meet. The pandemic and the national lockdown has led to the loss of many jobs.
Every time that Eskom increases its prices above the inflation rate, it places further pressure on municipalities who are required to deliver a basket of essential services, viz water, sewerage, refuse, electricity, roads and stormwater, etc to citizens. The effect of electricity increases above the inflation rate then requires municipalities to compensate by reducing increases on the other services in an effort to make the overall basket of services more affordable to our consumers. This results in less money being available to provide for adequate maintenance on water, sewerage, roads and other infrastructure. As a result many more municipalities are struggling to remain financially viable.
George has never defaulted on an Eskom account and those municipalities who regularly pay, carry the burden of non-paying municipalities. Eskom’s inability to collect from defaulting municipalities is now giving rise to these massive increases. Possibly Eskom should be providing an incentive to those municipalities who regularly pay their accounts.
While I am highly appreciative of the efforts of the Eskom CEO to improve efficiencies, reduce debt, etc in the massive turnaround at Eskom, there is an urgent need to reduce the bloated salary bill, stop the mismanagement, inflated tenders, corruption, etc and recover the outstanding debt not being paid by defaulters.
It is therefore an extreme injustice that ordinary citizens of George — and, indeed, residents of every municipality in the country — should be forced to bear the cost of Eskom’s inability to fix its own problems. The increase should be no higher than the inflation rate of 5,5%.