Switch off the lights to non-paying departments, municipalities - Malema to Eskom

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EFF leader Julius Malema has called on Eskom to switch the lights off at government departments and municipalities which owe the utility money.

Speaking at Megawatt Park before he handed over a memorandum of demands to Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, Malema said Eskom needed to switch off power to all municipalities and government departments which could not pay its debts.

He was speaking after the EFF marched kilometres in cold and rainy weather from Innesfree Park to Eskom's headquarters.

In December last year, Parliament's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) heard that overdue debt owed to Eskom by municipalities increased by some R1.2bn in September to R26.4bn by the end of October, Fin24 reported.

In the same meeting, Cogta's Kevin Naidoo told Scopa the top 20 payment levels had dropped from a peak of 91% in March 2016 to 31.3% in October 2019, with virtually no payment towards the current accounts over the last seven months.

"A lot of departments owe Eskom; start with those departments in Pretoria, close electricity, let them pay. With that money you must give indigent people free electricity," Malema said.

READ: Malema urges Andre de Ruyter to take firm charge of troubled Eskom

In June last year, Soweto, Eskom's biggest debtor, owed R18.9bn in unpaid bills which accounted for more than half of total arrear debt. 

Malema said social grant beneficiaries needed to be exempt from paying electricity, calling on the SA Social Security Agency (Sassa) to hand over its list of beneficiaries to Eskom to clear their debt.

He added Soweto residents who could afford to pay should pay and not hide behind the poor.

"Don't just say we demand flat rates; we demand free electricity. If we give free electricity it means you are paying for the rich."

Malema also called on Eskom to shame those in Parliament by exposing them for non-payment.

"We are contributing in collapsing this company. It's not only white monopoly capital that is going to collapse this, even ourselves who are not honest with the struggles of the poor, we are going to collapse it. There is no free electricity, that [means] coal for us to mine. We need money. Those who can afford to pay, pay for your electricity."

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