Historic ActionSA Motion to Free Joburg Residents from Eskom’s Grip Passes

Today, a historic ActionSA-sponsored motion before the Johannesburg City Council was passed to initiate the process of integrating residents who receive their electricity supply directly from Eskom under City Power. This is particularly important for residents of Soweto, who have been neglected by Eskom for far too long and subjected to illegal credit management practices.

The motion resolved for the City’s administration to conduct an economic impact assessment of what integration would mean for the City, while working to develop the terms of reference for an Eskom Integration Task Team that can lead the inter-governmental negotiation process with the relevant National Government departments and Eskom.

This is crucial; integration must happen in a financially sustainable manner. The City cannot inherit and effectively be held responsible for Eskom’s corruption and mismanagement. Any integration of Eskom customers into City Power must be done without the transfer of any historic debt. Moreover, the successful implementation of the integration will require additional funding from National Treasury via the Equitable Share to fund an expanded program of free and subsidised services for indigent households.

Today’s motion is an important step toward freeing our residents from the impact of unstable and unreliable electricity supply owing to Eskom’s mismanagement. The effects of Eskom’s rolling blackouts have far-reaching reaching consequences on the quality of life of our residents; it also has economic impact on businesses operating in Johannesburg, particularly small l businesses. We cannot continue to have two classes of residents in Johannesburg, those served by City Power and those mistreated by ESKOM.

It should not come as a shock to the residents of Johannesburg that this motion was opposed by the ANC, EFF and the AIC. These parties attempted to condemn residents of Soweto and other places who are mistreated by ESKOM to a lifetime of such mistreatment. While ActionSA works to ensure this motion brings improvement to the lives of residents of places like Soweto, we will remind those residents how these parties violated their promises made in the last election campaign.

Pursuant to our 2021 LGE Election Manifesto, ActionSA believes that all residents of Johannesburg have the right to stable and reliable electricity supplied by a municipal government that is caring and responsive. Direct supply by Eskom is counter to this principle. When we entered coalitions in Gauteng, this was a requirement placed upon the coalition agreements that were adopted by all parties.

ActionSA is committed to measures aimed at reducing the impact of rolling blackouts on our residents, including the procurement of additional electricity from independent power suppliers (IPPs) such as the Kelvin Power Station. Unfortunately, any benefit derived from such an agreement would not be shared by residents served directly by Eskom. These residents will be left in the dark, something we cannot accept this.

It is for this reason that we brought this motion to reduce our resident’s reliance on Eskom. Johannesburg remains the economic hub of South Africa, impediments to its economic activity has consequences for the country’s GDP and must be arrested.

We express our appreciation to our coalition partners for sharing this vision for the people of Johannesburg and demonstrating how multi-party governance can work for the benefit of communities failed before.