Eskom’s electricity hike will harm the poor

Eskom is determined to hike electricity tariff by 45% for three years in a row. This year they have already increased the tariff by 34% despite the difficult economic conditions affecting the whole world.

These alarming increases will have dire consequences for the poor working class masses. The hikes will escalate inflation rate by the same measure in percentage which will impose severe calamity on the have-nots. The same cannot be said for the have-lots since they have enough surpluses to pay for the hike.

The prevailing economic conditions in the world which have lead to loss of more than 400 000 jobs in South Africa will exacerbate the already worsening economic hardships borne by the poor. Already a predominant number of the unemployed masses and laboring class cannot afford the cost of living.

If Eskom and the ANC government acted timeously, we would not be in this predicament today. Because of lack of leadership, vision and decisiveness, typical of the South African government, the poor working class masses are now expected to shoulder the burden of Eskom’s capital expansion programme. The costs of expansion have escalated over the years while it was all hunky-dory at Eskom’s boardrooms and the corridors of Union Buildings. These costs would have been avoided if the issue was given the urgency it deserves and dealt with proactively.

No sanction has been taken against Eskom management for gross negligence and mismanagement because government has been complicit in the whole debacle and is equally culpable. In fact Eskom management and cabinet ministers who were supposed to provide strategic leadership on the issue continue to receive obscene bonuses and salary increases.

As things stand, the poor working class masses have already subsidized the shortfall that Eskom is experiencing since government has pumped money to alleviate Telkom’s shortfall and now they must fork out more in electricity tariffs. It is a clear case of double jeopardy for the masses.

Capital expansion must be for Eskom’s account not the consumers. Consumers must only pay for the product and reasonable costs of production. This time around Eskom and government must not be allowed to get away with murder.

Hulisani Mmbara