Daily Dispatch

Wage carnage adds pressure to KSD outcry

- SIKHO NTSHOBANE

Phiko Ngxekana is one of King Sabata Dalindyebo (KSD) municipali­ty’s poorer residents who marched on Thursday against what they said are ripoff prices for electricit­y, which they have nicknamed “Mtiza”.

He and others said the Covid19 pandemic had ravaged incomes and pushed them to breaking point.

Braving the cold, 50 supporters of KSD Concerned Residents went to KSD’s offices in town to hand over a petition containing 40,000 signatures from disgruntle­d Mthatha citizens, demanding to buy electricit­y directly from bulk supplier Eskom.

Alternativ­ely, they demand KSD cuts the price by half.

The unemployed father, 59, says his family has to spend R500 a month on KSD electricit­y.

But it runs out before the month end and the Ngxekanas have to pay a further R240 every month for gas and R150 on paraffin, “We can if’ t not even more. cook with this electricit­y and have to use a gas stove,” he told the Dispatch.

“It is killing us. If you buy for R50, it doesn’t even last three days. My children cannot even watch television at night because we have to save it.”

Nozibele Khulakade, 69, an unemployed mother of two from Mandela Park informal settlement, is upset that the poor must pay the same price as those in affluent suburbs.

“They [municipal bosses] used to give us R50 free electricit­y every month but that stopped last year. Now I have to take what little I make from doing odd jobs to buy electricit­y, on top of everything else.”

KSDCR chair Phikolomzi Adonis said Mthatha residents were not getting value for money from KSD.

He said the situation was worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown as many were losing their jobs.

“The petition is our plea to the municipali­ty to find it in their hearts to listen to our plight and do something.”

But KSD mayoral committee member and councillor Zukisa Gana, who accepted the petition on behalf of mayor Nyaniso Nelani, said they had met with the group on July 21 where most of their demands had been discussed.

When Gana was asked how it was possible that residents in the same municipal ward could buy cheaper power from Eskom while others had to buy from KSD, he said some areas were zoned as ratepaying areas while others, deemed peri- urban and rural, were not ratepayers.

Eastern Cape Chamber of Business president Vuyisile Ntlabati said: “The municipali­ty can impose other levies and taxation to make money.”

EFF OR Tambo regional chair Mzukisi Fukula called the price illogical and unjust.

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