Fire Gwede Mantashe, say activists

Civil society groups plan to take to the streets of Cape Town to protest load shedding ahead of the State of the Nation Address on 9 February.

Civil society groups are planning to take to the streets of the city centre of Cape Town ahead of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) on 9 February.

They are demanding an end to Eskom’s rolling blackouts and the devastating impact it is having on daily life.

Civil society mobilises

On Wednesday evening, more than 80 residents, scholars, organisations and members of civil society groups met at Bertha House in Salt River.

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Many people spoke out about the challenges they experience during load shedding and how the power crisis could be resolved.

The meeting, facilitated by #UniteBehind, also marked the start of the #FixEskom campaign to get the government to end loadshedding and to find alternative power producing sources.

This comes in the wake of the National Energy Regulator (NERSA) approving Eskom’s electricity tariff hike for the 2022/23 financial year and 12.74% for the next. This will be effective from 1 April 2023.

Under the #FixEskom campaign, they are demanding that load shedding end by December 2023 and they want Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe to be fired.

Some of their other demands are (1) the planned tariff increases to be scrapped; (2) for municipalities to procure their own power and to build new power lines and (3) substations to enable investment in renewable sources.

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They are encouraging people across the country to join the #FixEskom campaign, #UniteBehind director Zackie Achmat said. Those who are unable to take to the streets in February can organise lunchtime pickets, Achmat said.

One of the biggest challenges of load shedding is the damage it causes to appliances, Nonqaba Melani, who lives in Site C in Khayelitsha, told attendees. She said this has also caused electricity boxes to explode, causing shack fires.

Many people’s stokvel perishables had to be thrown away over the festive holidays because of rolling outages over the festive season, Melani said.

“Most of us are part of community stokvels. In December, there were meat stokvels for the festive season but because of load shedding, we ended up throwing away most of that meat because there was no power to switch on the fridges,” she said.

Many residents are opting to use paraffin and gas to boil water and cook, Melani said.

ALSO READ: City Power sees an increase in cable theft incidents during load shedding

Load shedding has exacerbated the inequalities in communities, academic and HIV activist Vuyiseka Dubula said.

While there are talks of the City buying electricity from other power producers, there are concerns over its affordability, Bridget Nkomana from the Back2Work Campaign said.

By implementing the 18.65% electricity tariff hike, “Eskom is stifling consumers, especially the poorest of the poor, who can barely afford the current rates,” Assembly of the Unemployed said in a statement this week.

The “public should not have to pay for ongoing corruption, mismanagement and Eskom’s wasteful expenditure,” group said. They too are calling for mass action against the increases and load shedding.

This article originally appeared on Moneyweb and was republished with permission.
Read the original article here.

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