31 January 2013

South Africa: Protests At Eskom Hearing

Photo: Saragoldsmith/Flickr
Power lines

Johannesburg — A group of around 100 people, mostly dressed in red T-shirts, protested in Midrand on Thursday at Nersa's public hearings on Eskom's proposed tariff hike.

The group sang struggle songs and danced outside the gate of the Gallagher Convention Centre.

Several of them carried posters reading: "We say no to 16 percent", "Eskom's application equals job losses and inflation" and "Link electricity tariff increases to inflation".

The hearings began in Midrand on Wednesday. Many of the protesters were present then as well.

Eskom had applied for an electricity price increase of 16 percent every year for the next five years. This would more than double the price of electricity over five years, taking it from 61 cents a kilowatt hour in 2012/13, to 128 cents a kWh in 2017/18.

The Nersa hearings, chaired by Thembani Bukula, are being held to gather views on Eskom's multi-year price determination (MYPD3) application.

Mduduzi Tshabalala from the Batho Ba Tlahaho Environmental Group, took the podium. Dressed in grey school shorts and a white shirt, Tshabalala said he represented the children in his area.

He said they wanted Eskom to explore other avenues of creating electricity, preferably ones that would not damage their health.

Eunice Zungu, chairperson of the Voice of the Poor group, said the poor were already facing many stresses and did not need the price hike.

"Sixteen percent will create more poverty... We already owe Eskom, so this will just increase our debt."

She argued that water, food and petrol prices would increase and the poor would be severely affected.

Zungu suggested that more solar-powered electricity systems be installed. She said those who could afford the price hike should rather foot the bill.

"Those who have the money should pay, and they shouldn't hide behind the poor," she said.

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