Cape Town Cuts Free Electricity To Thousands Of Struggling Households

GOOD Statement by Anton Louw,
GOOD City of Cape Town Councillor
27 March 2024

The City of Cape Town, which already applies higher mark-ups to its electricity sales than any other South African city, is cutting the provision of free electricity to thousands of indigent households.

The City’s budget adjustment, tabled today and approved by the DA majority, quietly lowers the qualifying threshold for free services from properties valued at less than R500 000 to properties valued at less than R400 000.

Because of the high price of property in Cape Town there are precious few formal dwellings worth less than R500 000 in the city. The fact that their properties have relatively high value doesn’t mean they have any loose change in their pocket – or options to move anywhere cheaper.

The City’s cuts will impact families living across the Cape Flats, besides those living in informal settlements who maintain serviceable electricity meters in their shacks.

With the City having announced massive plans to privatise the generation of electricity, at enormous cost, taking away the small provision of power from struggling people is a straightforward case of robbing Peter to pay Paul.

The City is also spending piles of money litigating against the national electricity regulator NERSA in a bid to be able to apply higher mark-ups than the rest of the country.

The City has been charging consumers above the regulated mark-ups for two years. Last year it applied its illegal mark-up to the rate that had already been illegally marked up the previous year.

The City’s ratepayer-funded legal challenge against being forced to comply with Nersa was dismissed in the High Court of Pretoria last year, with costs awarded to Nersa.

The court agreed with Nersa that it was unreasonable for the City to penalize its customers by making them pay for lost sales due to load shedding that was not the customer’s fault.

Technically, the City should return tens of millions of Rands in over-charges to residents; it should not be looking for ways to cut benefits to residents in dire need.

In a gloomy economic environment, with widespread joblessness and poverty, in which many electricity users can’t afford to buy any units of electricity when their free quota is used up, removing the free quota is literally pushing people back towards the dark ages.

It is a disgrace that reflects how out of touch the DA leadership cabal in Cape Town is from the majority of the people.

Media Enquiries:

Anton Louw, GOOD City of Cape Town Councillor
Cell: 082 377 3335

Janke Tolmay, GOOD Media Manager
Cell: 073 367 1223