Soweto’s residents should pay a flat rate for electricity as this may help foster a culture of payment in the community.
Speaking in an interview with Fin24, Soweto ANC councillor Mpho Sesedinyane said that this should initially be set at R150 as residents have historically been told that they should not pay for services.
He said that this dates back to the days of apartheid where non-payment was seen as a form of resistance against the government.
“Our people were told not to pay for services, not to pay for electricity,” he said.
“We need to bring them back and say, we have won the country now. It is us (the ANC) that are governing now, can we now start to contribute and pay Eskom,” Sesedinyane said. These views have previously been expressed by president Cyril Ramaphosa and his deputy, David Mabuza, among others.”
Eskom has previously said that Soweto is the worst offender when it comes to non-payment, owing more than the next 10 municipalities combined.
As of 30 June 2019, Soweto owes Eskom R18.9 billion in unpaid bills – accounting for more than half of total arrear debt (plus interest). Total municipal debt comes to R17.62 billion. Municipalities also owe R3.58 billion in interest.
Culture of non-payment must stop
In an open letter published at the end of October 2019, Ramaphosa said that Eskom is also owed huge amounts of money by individual users and that a culture of non-payment exists in several parts of the country.
“Boycotting payment for services had a place in apartheid, South Africa. It was an effective tool to mobilise communities against an unjust system.
“But it has no place in present-day South Africa. If public utilities like Eskom are to survive, then all users need to pay for the services they receive.”
Households across South Africa owe Eskom around R40 billion in unpaid bills – but it’s Soweto, with its 1.3 million residents, which make up the biggest chunk of that.
Non-payment in the city is endemic, with illegal connections a common feature.