Eskom's War on the Poor
“Any civil, religious, or military official in government employ, who serves the state from vanity, or, as is most often the case, simply for the sake of the pay wrung from the harassed and toilworn working classes (all taxes, however raised, always fall on labor), if he, as is very seldom the case, does not directly rob the government in the usual way, considers himself, and is considered by his fellows, as a most useful and virtuous member of society.” - Leo Tolstoy
On 22 November 2007, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) held its last public hearing on Eskom’s massive rate hikes. The outlook for poor users of electricity is grim and marks yet another salvo in the Government’s unrelenting war on the poor.
Eskom and municipalities are planning to increase dramatically electricity tariffs to poor households (defined by NERSA as domestic low users, 100kWh of usage), often at rates above that of domestic high users (800kWh). The new average tariff for domestic low users, based on the projected 16.5% rate hike, will be 48.17c/kWh. For domestic high users, the average tariff will be 45.5c/kWh.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, an environmental and social justice NGO, opposed this rate hike for poor users in written submissions to NERSA and made an attempt to speak at the public hearing in Pretoria. When an Earthlife Africa representative (Sibusiso Mimi) tried to make a presentation, NERSA officials denied him the right to do so. Mimi summed up the public hearing as, “A NERSA and Eskom tea party.”...