The National Energy Regulator of South Africa, have begun their annual public hearings recently which will run over three weeks. The first of which has taken place at Cape Town, 15th of January 2019, where members of the public argued against the state-owned company, Eskom’s 45% tariff hike, 15% annual increase, over three years, meanwhile also applying for the recovery of losses made during the 2017/2018 financial year. The proceedings took place at the Cape Sun hotel, which includes businesses, energy experts, government officials and members of the public. Below are some comments coming out of this public hearings, which ended early due to low turn out in oral submissions:
Ronald Chauke, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse’s (OUTA) Portfolio Manager on Energy had the following to say; “At best, we propose that NERSA should not allow Eskom to exceed CPI, which is around the 5% mark, but instead, Eskom should find savings by reducing the headcount and staff costs, along with returning to lower primary energy costs by undoing the inflated and often corrupt contracts entered into during the Jacob Zuma era.” – The group further stating that the public should not bare the brunt of Eskom’s poor leadership and corruption.
Joyce Malebu, a pensioner from Gugulethu, spoke mainly on behalf of her community, saying “The increase from Eskom will have a negative impact on the poorest of the poor, the standard of living will be worsened. We want authorities to consider the negative impact on our lifestyle”, going further to say the current cost of living is at times, unbearable.
“If Eskom applies for a 15% tariff hike – where will these frail persons get another 15% to subsidise their living? They don’t have it. I implore Nersa to rethink 15% hike. It is impossible for these people to live a normal, decent life. They can’t afford it,” – Lydia Petersen, an activist from Mitchells Plain.
General manager of regulations at Eskom, Hasha Tlhotlhalemaje, on behalf of Eskom responded to concerns raised at the hearing saying there is sympathy for the challenges experienced by the community, and insists Eskom are not in a position to make decisions on policy but are eager to address challenges and come up with solutions.