12 November 2012

Namibia: Keetmans Residents Reject SELCo

KEETMANSHOOP residents on Thursday evening gave a resounding “no” to any plans by the town council to renew an exclusive 15-year power supply contract with the Southern Electricity Company (SELCo).

The contract, which expires in 2016, has sparked protests by residents over skyrocketing electricity tariffs.

Last week residents renewed their fight against SELCo, which they claimed are “parasites sucking the blood of residents to make huge profits” after news about an intended trip by the council to Johannesburg, South Africa, to hold talks with SELCo's top bosses.

Addressing the frustrated residents at a community meeting on Thursday, mayor Moses Titus pledged that the council would not enter into any binding agreement with SELCo without prior consultation with the community.

“Council is not at liberty to make any binding agreement in South Africa, therefore any decision or confirmed direction will come for discussions to meetings such as this one,” Titus said.

He added that the council was not in a position to renew the SELCo contract due to the pending High Court judgement relating to the unilateral termination of the deal by the council in August 2008.

At Thursday's meeting, the residents also expressed concern over the delayed High Court judgement.

“We must stage a demonstration at the High Court to have the verdict delivered. We have waited for three years, for how long are we still going to suck the hind teat of SELCo,” one resident said.

According to Titus, the planned talks with SELCo will focus on the smooth takeover of electricity supply from SELCo, royalty fees, SELCo's social responsibility towards the town's residents and cooperation in terms of development activities between the parties during the remainder of the contract.

Titus added that the council on its return to Namibia will stop over at Kuruman and Upington for talks with their municipalities. .

The council left for Johannesburg yesterday, although the trip had not been approved by Local Government Minister Jerry Ekandjo.

“Last week, we submitted a letter to the minister to have the trip approved. However, we have not yet received any response,” Titus said yesterday.

Titus believes that Ekandjo will not have a problem with the trip because most of the expenses are covered by SELCo.

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