Thousands sign DA petition to cancel Joburg’s R200 electricity surcharge

Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda is in the spotlight as thousands of residents sign a petition against the prepaid electricity surcharge. File photo.
Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda is in the spotlight as thousands of residents sign a petition against the prepaid electricity surcharge. File photo.
Image: Freddy Mavunda

More than 14,000 residents have signed a petition calling for the cancellation of the City of Johannesburg’s R200 monthly surcharge on prepaid electricity.

The petition, initiated by the DA, comes after many residents complained about the prepaid charge.

The DA argued residents cannot bear the brunt of the city's inability to manage its finances.

“We believe all residents of Johannesburg should be treated fairly. Good governance is non-negotiable. We have, therefore, written to the finance MMC to urgently review or do away with the surcharge, and provide clarity on the business surcharge and how it will be used to the benefit of residents,” the petition reads.

The surcharge was approved by the council in May as part of the budget presented by finance MMC Dada Morero. The DA was the only political party that stood against it.

DA caucus leader in Johannesburg Belinda Kayser-Echeozonjoku told TimesLIVE the party was ignored when it raised issues about the council's decision.

“We have been extremely vocal from the beginning in June 2023 when we rejected the budget that included increased tariffs. They chose to ignore the DA, and now we have a public outcry. When we rejected this, we were called an anti-poor party without looking at the merits of why we raised the issue,” she said.

The party launched the petition as residents continued to tell it about their frustrations, she said. 

“We are getting many complaints from residents who are living in homes that are charged business rates. We launched the petition because residents asked us to ask the city to review the surcharge, and we have not received a favourable response.

“We launched the petition so the city can look at other ways to implement this. There are alternative ways that have been provided to the city. They could have put it on hold. More than 14,000 people have signed. This shows how unhappy they are. Everyone is angry about the surcharge,” Kayser-Echeozonjoku said.

The surcharge was not properly communicated to residents, she said.

“We believe the city was not transparent. On top of that, some details were not clear for residents. The business surcharge and domestic surcharge were not clarified, and some people are not aware. The correct thing for the city to do was to provide massive public awareness to homeowners.”

City of Joburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda has defended the charge, saying it was intended to fund the maintenance of electricity infrastructure and bring power to those without it.

“Despite some opposition, the city asserts the surcharge is necessary to maintain and expand the system to accommodate the growing population and economic demands. As a responsible government, the city aims to use tariffs optimally for system maintenance and capacity enhancement,” he said.



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