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Double-digit electricity hikes get nod in eThekwini despite DA protest

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Double-digit electricity hikes get nod in eThekwini despite DA protest

DURBAN - ELECTRICITY tariffs are set to increase from next Thursday, after they were approved by the eThekwini Municipality's Executive Committee (Exco) on Tuesday - in spite of an uproar from the official opposition.

The DA fought in vain against the review of electricity tariffs during the virtual Exco sitting as they were outnumbered. They argued that there was no value in increasing prices when people were not given options to buy electricity from other suppliers.

Deputy city manager Sibusiso Makhanya presented the municipality's report on the plan to introduce and implement the renewable buyback tariffs for industrial, business, and residential sectors. This will see electricity increasing by an average of 14.59%.

The DA argued against the proposal, stating that although increasing electricity tariffs was in line with the city's ability to collect revenue to ensure service delivery, it remained a concern because ratepayers did not receive value for the money that they paid.

DA councillor Yogis Govender said: "We can't increase the tariffs because street lights are not working, the electricity unit in the city is collapsing. What's the point of increasing the tariffs when people don't receive good value for their money? These increases are not justified."

DA chief whip Nicole Graham said: "The kind of services we provide are terrible and yet we force people to buy those services from us. It's not right to even increase salaries of officials and charge people more for the bad services we provide in the city."

Councillor Thanduxolo Sabelo defended the municipality's tariff increase proposal, asserting that the city understood the difficulty residents faced as the Covid-19 pandemic remained persistent, however, his party (ANC) believed the tariffs were justified and that the people could afford it.

Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda agreed with Sabelo, arguing that it was untrue that the service had collapsed. He said the reason businesses chose to remain in the city was because the city was a good place to do business.

"We need to collect revenue and also maintain good service delivery to our people. We fully support this increase," said Kaunda.

Kaunda closed the matter after a majority vote.

The muncipality's Enterprise Risk Management unit also presented feedback on the lifestyle audit report, which the audit committee had recommended be conducted on senior management.

Audit committee chairperson Nala Mhlongo said the City Integrity and Investigations Unit (CIIU) indicated it had engaged with the Department of Public Service Administration (DPSA), however, there was no legal basis to conduct lifestyle audits unless there were standing allegations on an individual.

He added that the DPSA had not implemented the Lifestyle Audits Framework due to challenges experienced with the framework. Furthermore, the CIIU head indicated that, according to DPSA, the framework was not implementable - following the legislative challenges experienced.

Graham said the DA was willing to undergo lifestyle audits, as this would ensure people were not involved in corrupt activities. She encouraged Kaunda and all the Exco members to do the same.

Further, chief risk officer Phumelele Madlala highlighted some of the city's risks, stating that instability in leadership and lack of safety was a high risk, as people had no confidence in the municipal leadership.

Author iol
Published 23 Jun 2021 / Views -

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