Soweto must, like all other poor communities in South Africa, pay for electricity and should not be handled with kid gloves.
This is the view of Matthew Parks from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu), who was commenting on the country’s electricity crisis.
Parks said it is not acceptable that households in poor communities like Khayelitsha must pay, but that Soweto is somehow excluded.
He added that poverty is a country-wide phenomenon and just because Gauteng is a closely-contested political arena should not give Soweto special rights.
“We are scared now to speak the truth. We must bite the bullet,” Parks said.
Non-payment in Soweto
There is widespread non-payment for electricity in Soweto which has seen the area’s debt to Eskom increase from R3.6 billion in 2014 to its current level of around R18 billion.
So bad is the situation that Eskom recently disconnected various areas in Soweto because of non-payment.
Residents started to fight back through widespread protests and reconnecting themselves to the grid.
To ensure their illegal connections stay up, groups of residents are guarding electrical boxes to prevent Eskom employees from disconnecting them again.
Soweto residents also gained political support for their movement. Last month a Soweto marched to Eskom’s offices was led by City of Johannesburg mayor Geoff Makhubo.
Soweto residents want to pay Eskom a flat rate of R150 per month for electricity. Some residents also demanded that Soweto’s R18-billion debt should be scrapped.