FROM TUMELO MOSIKARE 20/07/2018
Listen to the People On Whom You Depend, all we want is a better life and a Better City. All Of Us are willing to work together as a United Community to have a better City again; one that we are proud to call home.
In October 2016 the SACP had a march to the Municipality. The March was on illegal evictions which people said were being done with the knowledge or the assistance of Municipal Officials and the second issue was Electricity.
The Municipality received the demands and was slow to respond to them. We persisted on social media (facebook to be exact) that there be movement on these because the price of electricity remained high. nothing was done relating to lowering the price of electricity.
In 2017 we established/continued the adhoc team on electricity tariffs and attended the Community Meetings Sechaba doing the financial analysis of what we were presenting to the Municipality, extensive research was done on the tariffs and we found presentations online which were made to NERSA where business was opposing the increase in tariffs by the Municipality. Another presentation done by the Municipality, by the then acting CFO, current suspended CFO. where reasons were given why the Municipality needed to be granted an above norm/average increase in the price of electricity for the 2011/2012 financial year. The reasons apart from the infrastructural ones where mostly unfounded. even the infrastructural reason given should not have been considered as the funds for that came from National Funding. not from the sale of electricity.
Through analyzing the presentation and the reports of those years, we found that there had been lies, for example, a higher number of indigent households was given as a reason for the need of the price of electricity to be increase whereas in the annual report the number was considerably lower than what was said to NERSA.
We attended the Community Meeting at the Recreation hall in Hulana, where the CFO presented and spoke of an increase in the price of electricity. where we opposed this and gave the reasons. The Mayor, then invited us to present to the Mayoral Committee the following week so that they could ‘hear’ what we were saying.
Sechaba could not attend the meeting as he had business in Phokwane to attend to. we had concluded the presentation the day before. Before the Meeting started in the Chambers, the CFO asked what I was doing there, that the public should sit in the gallery, I explained to her that we had been invited to make a presentation.
After a few technical challenges with the projector, the presentation was made and then the CFO was asked to respond.
We had started a petition (online and hard copy), petitioning the Municipality to decrease the price of electricity.
In the recorded (audio clip) response of the CFO. there were many conflicting inputs and so when the Mayor asked if there was anything else. the response I gave was that we had gone there to try and reach out the the Municipality to at least not increase the price of electricity as it was already too expensive. that the response given seemed to suggest that the Municipality was still going ahead with the increase. so we would take the matter to NERSA and lodge a formal complaint attaching the petition.
The Mayor assured that they would look into the matter and resolve in the best interest of the community.
We were invited to RTS FM along with the Municipality to debate/discuss the tariffs. No official showed up despite having agreed to the interview/live discussion.
We were then invited to a Meeting where Mr. Mosimane said that the Mayor was looking into the matter and his intention was to go against the increase, that there would be a possible 0% increase for the 2017/2018 financial year. and also look into normalizing the price of electricity in the following years.
Seeing this as a positive start, we waited to see this happen.
The Municipality, through the Mayor announced that they could decrease the price of electricity by up to 28% for the following year (this year. which financially started on the 1st of July 2018). This was published in the DFA
Upon seeing this. there was no need to further pursue the petition which at that point had more than 4000 signatures.
The Mayor then made an announcement that there would be a 0% increase for 2017/2018 financial year starting July 2017 ending June 2018.
This further showed that the Municipality/Mayor was about to make good on his promise (lower the price of electricity).
In January 2018, after looking a the electricity prices, I called Sechaba and asked him to verify the calculations. if the Municipality had not in fact gone against the 0% announced and rather implemented a 1.88% increase. this we did not go deep into and rather collectively decided to go to the Municipal Manager and ask if there were any plans to increase the price of electricity from July 1st 2018.
We requested a meeting with the Municipal Manager and it was granted. we sent the agenda for the meeting to his office and it was received and agreed to.
The meeting was held on the 12th February 2018. with Pantsi, Sechaba, Myself and Anthony from the Community present,. The Municipal Manager representing the Municipality. The minutes of said meeting were made public on facebook and also distributed via whatsapp.
In the Meeting the following points were on the agenda:
1. The Reduction of electricity tariffs (Based on the 28% possible reduction report in an article in the DFA last year(2017) quoting the Mayor)
2. The Points on page two in the Letter from NERSA to the Municipal Manager dated 2 June 2017, specifically relating to the quarterly report to NERSA on energy loss.
3. Possible 7% electricity tariff hike as captured in the 2017/2018 budget, projected for the 2018/2019 financial year.
4. Possible solutions to the high energy loss challenge faced by the Municipality
The minutes of the meeting were then compiled within a week and sent to the Municipal Manager for verification. They were not objected to and were then made public.
The Municipal Manager had committed that he would make information available to us on key issues raised in the meeting.
*How the price of the tariffs were determined
*How much a unit costs the Municipality when they buy it from Eskom
*What actions were taken to respond to NERSA’s instructions specifically the one where NERSA says not to increase the price of Electricity by to rather decrease their losses. and the quarterly report they were instructed to send to NERSA relating to the actions taken.
A week went by after the commitments had been made by the Municipal Manager. and we requested the information he had agreed to give. this was an exercise in futility as there was nothing received. the Municipal Manager when asked to respond would refer the Matter to the CFO and still there would be no response.
On the 9th March finally, we told the Municipal Manager that we would ask for the information (quarterly reports) directly from NERSA as NERSA ought to have them.
NERSA having national hearings for the Eskom increase. took time to give the quarterly reports which were supposed to be from 30 September 2018.
There was just 1 report given and it did not fully address the NERSA directives.
We attending the Eskom hearing at the Convention Center in Kimberley and presented on the high prices of electricity. The Chairperson of the hearing asked that we communicate with the NERSA office to have them intervene.
A formal complaint was then lodged against the Municipality with NERSA. (still not concluded. )
After having sent an inbox to NERSA, the Lady who does stakeholder education sessions throughout the Country. where the electricity sale license holder (Municipality), Community and NERSA discuss the roles each plays, the rights and responsibilities; the Lady confirmed that NERSA would be in Kimberley for stakeholder education. on the 22nd and 23rd May 2018 at (Mayibuye and Roodepan) on the respective dates.
The draft budget was published by the Municipality on their website and it showed an intended 5.95% increase in the price of electricity. This went against the commitments made by the Mayor, that there would be a 28% cut in price of electricity. also it went against the instructions of NERSA that they not increase the price of electricity. that they rather decrease their losses.
At this point there was no R260 in the budget. When we attended the community meetings there was no mention of any R260 and this was confirmed later by the CFO in the live interview we had at the RTS FM studio where the CFO said that the Community was not consulted on the R260.
WHERE THE R260 comes from.
On the 22 May 2018, the CFO, attending the NERSA Stakeholder meeting at Mayibuye Mulitipurpose center in Galeshewe said:
” WHAT I’VE DECIDED TO DO from 1 July is to split your basic charge of electricity from your energy charge of electricity.”
The video recording of what was said by the CFO was then made public, as this was the first time ever there was mention of the basic/availability charge.
At the second meeting held in Roodepan, the question was asked if what the CFO had said is true and would be implemented. and the official from the Municipality confirmed that yes what the CFO said would be implemented.
What followed after that was a series of emails and meetings where we tried to follow the right channels for this not to be implemented as it would be bad for the community. and businesses.
We met with Mr. Modise to ask him to assist in resolving this. We then went to the ANC office to meet with the Provincial Secretary to bring this to their attention. In the passage of the Provincial Secretary’s office. The Mayor having to meet with the Provincial secretary passed and said when greeting. “Oh you are here, it does not matter where you go, the R260 is going nowhere”.
We brought this remark to the Secretary’s attention and he said this was rather arrogant of the Mayor. he explained that he too had challenges with the high rates that he was paying for his home. that something must be done.
He said we should meet with the Mayor and Himself on Monday. which Monday was a holiday and the meeting never sat.
Many people were following the developments but did not fully understand, people were seeing that the price of electricity was higher in Kimberley than other areas.
When the R260 was then also brought to the light, many people were at first confused as the Municipality through the CFO tried to make it seems as if it had always been there, despite this being a blatant lie. The Community united to remove the R260 and against the high electricity prices.
The Thursday 21 June 2018. before the March, we were invited to the ANC office to give a presentation on the R260 and electricity prices. This after the Municipality had been asked to do the same thing a day before.
We then insisted that the Municipality also be present to present where the R260 came from and if we presented anything that was out of line that they correct us.
At the Meeting on the 21st June. the CFO presented and the presentation tried to show how the R260 had always been in the price of electricity. the explanation was a lie and logically did not make sense.
seeing that the meeting seemed to be for us to come and be informed as to how the R260 would be implemented. We told the meeting that there was no need to present as there seemed to be a consensus that the R260 would be implemented.
We requested that they rather remove the R260 and keep the old prices for electricity. a request which would have been bad for the community. but would have prevented the strike and any harm should there have been.
We corrected this request saying, remove the R260 and review your electricity prices in line with what NERSA instructed and what the Mayor had said about the 20% decrease in the price of electricity.
The meeting concluded and the Municipality went to Ritchie that afternoon for a Community meeting. the Following night they were in Galeshewe explaining the R260, where the CFO had told the people that there was no R260 in her presentation which had a slide explaining how the R260 would be paid. the slide was passed by mistake during the presentation.
When the floor was opened for questions, we requested that the CFO go back to that particular slide and she could not explain the contradiction that There was no R260 and yet the slide was saying how the R260 would be paid.
A PR company appeared promoting the same lie that was presented, ‘There is no R260’. the company a day or two before the March on the 27th of June 2018. had gotten many EPWP workers to distribute flyers and tell people that the March was called off as there was no R260 anymore. We were told also some elederly people in No.2 where told not to attend the March if they did they would have their services cut. The intention of this campaign was to demobilize the community and have the March fail.
When the March succeeded, the Memorandum of 6 Demands was read out and delivered to the Mayor on the 27th June 2018.
We peacefully returned home.
The demands where ‘summary’:
1. Remove R260 basic charge for all households
2. Do not implement the 5.95% price increase
3. Have the lower prices apply for electricity (decrease the price)
4. Tuck Shops Should not charge extra on the price of electricity
5. The PR company must be made to account and their contract terminated
6. The Municipal Manager and CFO Resign.
The Municipality responded on Friday 29 June 2018, the response was discussed in the Council Chambers, the Mayor said he would need to consult with his principals on the resignation of the CFO and MM. the community would be meeting on the 1st and as such was communicated to him that he give a response to this demand.
The Community met on the 1st July and was not happy with the response on the letter read out to them and distributed via social media. One community member raised the issue that the Municipality had responded saying, they would look at ways to mitigate the loss they would have as result of not implementing the R260 basic charge. the community member was concerned that the Municipality would attempt to recover this money one way or another from the community.
The community concluded that the streets be closed from Monday until the CFO and MM resign, as these two officials would be the ones who try and recover the loss from the community.
We asked that we be given until Wednesday to write a letter to the Mayor on demand 6.
The Mayor’s assistant received the letter and wrote on it that the Mayor was not available for the 3rd and 4th July.
The letter stated that should the Mayor fail to respond to the demand (6) that he too should resign/leave.
The letter went unanswered and a formal application for another March was filed.
A meeting was convened by the traffic department official for the Police and all stakeholders to attend and discuss the March.
The meeting was called for Monday 9 July 2018. None of the Police Officers attended. Only Myself Pantsi and The Official from the Traffic department were present, it was concluded then that the police be invited again and that the meeting be held the next day 10 July 2018.
The meeting sat and the permission to March was granted.
On the 12th July 2018. we Marched to the Civic with the people chanting the CFO must go, the MM must go and the Mayor must go. We arrived at the Civic and no one came out from the Municipality to address us.
Pantsi then went into the Civic to ask what the hold up was. he was there for some time and the Mayor did not come out.
When the SABC asked for an interview, we had been there for almost an hour and as I walked to the reporter. I heard a stun grenade go off and shots being fired. I rand towards the crowed to try and stop the stone throwing and shooting. I turned my back to the police and raised my hands to ask the people to stop. as I turned towards the police I saw one of the police officers drawing his weapon and it was not the rifle type rubber bullet guns, he took out his 9mm gun whith live ammunition. I took my phone and video recorded him asking him if he was going to shoot people with real bullets. as I was recording. the other police officer grabbed me and threw me to the ground, they tied my hands behind my back with a strap tightly. while another officer put his boot on my face to hold my head down.
The pulled me up to stand up
An old man standing there grabbed my right arm as the police who had his hand on his now holsted gun was pulling me into the Civic. the old man would not let go of my arm and I tried to explain to the officer that I was not resisting going with him that I needed to calm the old man down and that he should remove his hand from his gun as there was no danger. after finally convincing the old man to let go. the officer pulled me into the civic. told me to lay on my belly. and he walked a few steps from me to the corner from where I was laying infront of the chashier’s desk inside the Municipality. he was fiddling with his gun and it fired. the other police officers where shocked and asked him what happened and tried to calm the situation down. Pantsi asked them to cut my hands loose as they were turning blue and swelling from no circulation.
The Provicial head/Brigadier of the Police then asked us to contain the situation.
People where still outside some had ran away but many stayed.
We asked the people to come back as the had not been any address yet.
The situation was calmed.
We were asked to go inside the Council Chambers by the Brigadier.
The Brigadier ‘chaired’ the meeting acting as a mediator between ourselves and the Municipality.
The Mayoral Committee had been sitting in there waiting, the Mayor was there and Mr. Mosimane.
After introductions, we told the Mayor that we had come to be addressed by him and that people walked from far to the civic. if he could not address the masses that he should have indicated this before the March was initiated.
A police officer came into to say that the people were getting agitated by the delay, that they had even started a count down.
We went and asked the people to be a bit more patient.
The same police officer who had been holding a live weapon came back into the chambers and told us there was a fire on the 2nd floor of the Civic we should evacuate, to which I responded that someone else verify as the officer could not be trusted. The officer sent to verify came back saying there was no fire.
The Mayor was repeating what was in the response given on the 29th June 2018,. Pantsi asked him to then take this to the People as they had come to him to hear his response.
The Mayor was refusing saying that we had brought the people there we should give the people the same response he was giving us .
The Brigadier then asked the Mayor to please address the people so that the March can end. That his safety would be guaranteed.
On our way out of the Civic we heard stun grenades go off again and the crowd partially dispersed.
The came back and the Mayor refused to go out. citing safety as a reason. eventually, he was given a mic to speak from inside the Civic.
When the Community heard his response they started revolting.
Something very interesting to consider is that. while we were at the Civic, the RC was being set alight. and there was an attempt by one person with a petrol bomb coming out of a car to try and burn finance section of the civic while we were in front. The interesting part is the reference that is being made to destroying the civic in the fake voice note that tried to implicate Pantsi in all this and also paint a political picture about the purpose of the march.
Since the March, there has been many attempts to discredit the intention of the March, to misdirect the community, businesses and to even spin a story that this is Politically motivated.
The Community marched on the 12th July, peacefully.
3rd forces created chaos.
The Mayor refused to address the community and caused agitation, he delayed/refused to take action against the CFO and MM and the Community said he too should go then.
Action was taken, Suspension of the CFO and MM only after the ANC recommended it, The Mayor is unable to take decisions for the good of the Community, his arrogance on the 12th Made people angry.
There is no doubt that should the Mayor decide to put the People first and resign today 20 July 2018, the Whole City Returns to calm immediately. there is no more unrest no more uncertainty.
The People with the will and power to heed the call of the Community must come to the Meeting on Sunday. The Municipality, the Councillors the Police, Businesses, Religious Leaders should come to the meeting on Sunday 22 July 2018 and address the Community.
Listen to the People On Whom You Depend. All we want is a better life and a better city. All of us are willing to work together as a United Community to have a better City again; one that we are proud to call home. – Tumelo Mosikare