Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has urged the government to crack the whip on electricity payment defaulters.
Alexandra residents and their counterparts from other townships who are not paying for their municipal services and bills could find themselves on the receiving end of the stick to make those payments.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has called on the government to crack the whip on communities that do not pay for services such as electricity as part of the reversal of the decades-old culture of non-payment that was embedded during the struggle years under apartheid.
Delivering his Budget Speech on 20 February, Mboweni said the ‘weapon’ of non-payment was ‘a good one then but now a new strategy needs to be adopted to get those communities to pay for the services they use’.
Mboweni cited anti-apartheid leaders who were vocal and leading the payment boycott of the years of apartheid to stand up again and be vocal in calling on the residents of the affected areas to stand up and be counted among those who honour their obligations.
“I know Mosiuoa Lekota [now Cope leader] and many others were very vocal against the payment for such services during the struggle years but what they have forgotten is to go back to the communities with the same vigour and call on them to now make those payments.
“I urge the government and the municipal authorities to take action and crack the whip to ensure payments are made for the services delivered to those communities. Part of the reason Eskom finds itself in such a mess is also due to the culture of non-payment,” the Minister told MPs in Parliament.
Market analyst Chris Gilmour, who was called in to unpack the Budget Speech for the media at a Vodacom event at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosebank, said, “The idea to get the non-paying communities to pay for the services was a good one but whether they have the means to do so is another.”
Eskom, the national power utility, said that Soweto was one of its major payment defaulters, who owe the company around R15 billion in unpaid electricity bills, dating back to the years of apartheid rule and that the debt figure keeps on growing each month.