Indigent Policy: Why aren’t we getting free electricity, say Cinderella Park residents

2011-04-20 00:00

RESIDENTS of Cinderella Park are demanding answers from the Msunduzi Municipality about why they are not getting the 200 kilowatt hours of electricity free, in line with the National Treasury policy on indigent households.

The crisis comes after Msunduzi councillors resolved in October last year to increase the allocation of free basic electricity from 50kWh to 200kWh per month to indigent households who use 500kWh or less per month.

The secretary of Eastwood Community Forum, Cynthia Fortein, said that before October all indigent households were granted 50kWh free electricity per month in terms of national policy.

“But indigent households with prepaid electricity meters were not given this 50kWh even though they are arguably the poorest households in Msunduzi.”

Prepaid meters are typically installed only in the homes of poor residents and always in RDP houses.

Fortein said only indigent households who have grid electricity, for which users pay at end of the month with their municipal bills, were given first the 50kWh free, and that with the October resolution, this was increased to 200kWh per month.

Only 3 400 households were recieving the free elelctricity when about 30 000 households should be benefiting, she said.

Residents say indigent households receiving prepaid electricity should qualify for 200kWh free electricity every month and that the resolution binds Msunduzi to uphold this in line with the national free basic electricity policy.

“uMngeni Municipality gives indigent households on prepaid electricity 100kWh free electricity every month. If this 200kWh free electricity is given, poor households will save themselves around R200 per month. It could make a significant difference in their lives,” said Fortein.

She said residents want to know why the municipality has not implemented this resolution.

“In doing so, households which should be able to access free amounts of electricity in line with national policy are prevented from doing so. They have the right to claim these rights,” she said.

Fortein said they should be able to go to their municipal office and register for the 200kWh, and indeed that is what the slips are telling them. It is a simple administrative process that should be implemented easily, she added.

Msunduzi municipal spokesperson Brian Zuma said all consumers on credit meters who applied for the so-called lifeline tariff will benefit from the 200kwh free electricity, but only if their consumption is less than 500kwh per month.

However, prepaid meters are not integrated with the council’s current debtors’ system and therefore the same benefit cannot be applied.

Zuma said the council is investigating the prepaid meter contract in order to offer a similar benefit to all indigent consumers.


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