The resignation of the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) CEO Phindile Baleni will lead to hikes in the electricity price, the Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday.
“Sadly, Ms Baleni’s resignation now heightens the possibility of a far more compliant Nersa CEO being installed, an appointment that will surely mean further electricity price hikes for consumers,” DA MP Gordon Mackay said in a statement.
“Under Ms Baleni’s leadership Nersa has remained a steadfast defender of the South African consumer, obstructing Eskom from bank-rolling its mismanagement at our expense.”
Last month, crisis-hit Eskom said needed to raise tariffs in order to assist the company in recovering some of its operating costs.
“We don’t have the right tariff – in that it does not allow us to recover all our cost,” said Eskom CEO, Tshediso Matona.
“Our business model does not allow that to happen. There is an acceptance that going forward, we need to address that issue.”
Initial reports suggested that Baleni’s resignation was due to political interference at Nersa which aimed to water down the regulator’s tough stance on Eskom, he said.
“It is felt that Ms Baleni has been a major stumbling block in allowing Eskom to recover increasing operational costs via the consumer.”
On Tuesday, provincial government announced that Baleni had been appointed director general in Gauteng premier David Makhura’s office.
“Ms Baleni brings a wealth of experience in senior management leadership and in the management of complex and diverse projects,” the Gauteng government said in a statement.
On Monday, the energy ministry said Baleni resigned from her position to “pursue other interests”.
Consumers will be hit with a 12.69% electricity tariff hike in April this year, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) announced in October 2014.
That increase is 4.7% above the 8% tariff increase originally agreed to for the year to March 2016.
In 2013, Nersa said that Eskom could only raise tariffs 8% a year for the five years to 2018, instead of 16% requested by the power utility.
However, the regulator noted that Eskom’s costs exceeded projections for the three years to 2013, enabling the company impose higher tariffs.