National, provincial govts could do more to support municipalities - Ekurhuleni EFF

The EFF in Ekurhuleni said it is pleased with the interventions announced by Mayor Tania Campbell as she moved to quell tensions in protest-hit Tembisa on Friday.

MEC Lebogang Maile and Ekurhuleni Mayor Tania Campbell

But at the same time, the party questioned the ANC-led national and provincial government over what it said was their silence regarding residents' demands.

Earlier in the week Cooperative Governance MEC Lebogang Maile visited the area amid destructive protests, where he acknowledged that there was little room for the municipality to intervene on issues such as the water and electricity tariff hikes. 

At the same time Maile promised community leaders that his office was in talks with the relevant national departments to address their challenges.

The EFF's caucus leader in the Ekurhuleni metro, Nkululeko Dunga, says the hikes over which residents took to the streets were imposed at national level.

He said the silence from the top tiers of government smacks of a political agenda.

"I can make a few examples; you look at the 8.4% that we had to adopt as the City of Ekurhuleni as a result of the Nersa (National Energy Regulator of South Africa) and the imposed tariff hike by Eskom, which is run at a national level. The same thing can be said about Rand Water, we had to increase by about 11% in terms of water and sewage and this was because Rand Water, who is the main supplier to the water infrastructure to the City of Ekurhuleni, imposing an increase. They are all silent in terms of their own increases that were imposed on us, and unfortunately, we had to impose those increases on society and our own customers in the city."

Dunga said they can only conclude that there's a political agenda at play.

"It smacks of a political agenda in itself, in the attempt to destabilise governance where the ANC at a national and provincial government is not in charge of the majority of municipalities, hence they are able to distance themselves from local government.”


He said during the tenure of ANC leader Mzwandile Masina, the metro's fiscal surplus dropped dramatically and rendered it unable to service its financial obligations, or even offer the 100 kilowatts of free electricity, which was above the recommended 50 kilowatts.

"The national treasury has a recommendation of 50KW, and we have always as a city had 100KW and that was based on our finances as a city. We are at a crossroads where we can't even service that. We couldn't even service our Eskom bill of about R582 million. That tells you that the city is under serious financial constraints and can't exercise giving people beyond what is due to them."

Dunga has urged community members to use the interim customer care centre announced by the mayor on Friday morning to apply for their indigent benefits.

"We are appealing to the members of society to apply for the indigent register so that they can be allocated the free basic services such as the 50 kilowatts of electricity and the six kilolitres of water as a standard approach of attempting to alleviate poverty in the area of Tembisa."  

He said in February the EFF introduced a motion in the metro's council, calling for the amendment of the indigent policy to allow the automatic application of Sassa grant recipients.

Meanwhile, Mayor Campbell said they were in the process of looking at adjusting the threshold to qualify for indigent status.

Indigent status is not permanent, and residents must reapply after three years.

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