Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba on Tuesday accused Eskom’s board of failing to honour an urgent request for a meeting to discuss concerns raised by Soweto residents about the power utility’s credit control measures.
Eskom has cut electricity in some parts of Johannesburg, especially in Soweto, as the state-owned entity (SOE) puts in place stringent measures to recoup the billions of rand residents owe it.
The power utility has also decided not to restore electricity to areas affected by frequent blackouts due to illegal connections to the grid and meter tampering.
Mashaba, whose DA has run the municipality in a coalition with opposition parties including the EFF since 2016, last week requested an urgent meeting with Eskom officials.
On Monday, he had a “productive meeting” with Eskom’s Gauteng officials, but said a follow-up meeting on Tuesday failed to materialise.
“This morning, I had a lengthy discussion with the CEO of Eskom who appeared to question the urgency behind this matter,” Mashaba said.
“Presently, Eskom has resolved not to maintain or repair their infrastructure in areas where there are high levels of non-payment of Eskom accounts.
“The effect is to institute a blanket punishment against even paying residents and taken to its logical conclusion, is a violation of residents’ rights, as well as a gross abuse of power.”
Mashaba said that while the City of Joburg does not usually seek to interfere in Eskom’s own affairs, the SOE has a legal obligation to provide electricity to those residents who duly honour their financial obligations.
“While Eskom has every right to recoup expenses from non-paying customers, such must be done fairly. It is therefore deeply disappointing that Eskom has not met the joint commitment reached yesterday, never mind indicating when such a meeting could take place,” he said.
“I will be writing to Eskom, requesting they urgently advise on when the promised engagement may take place.
“Should my request go unheeded, I will have no choice but to pursue urgent dispute resolution proceedings with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa between the City and Eskom,” the mayor said.
– African News Agency (ANA)