Joburg mayor pledges to address city's electricity, water problems

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Dr. Mpho Phalatse. Photo: Lucky Morajane
Dr. Mpho Phalatse. Photo: Lucky Morajane
  • Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse gave her first state of the city address on Thursday. 
  • She said her government had a plan to deal with the city's electricity problems, water supply and debt relief. 
  • Opposition political parties in the city poured cold water on Phalatse's address labelling it as lacking substance. 

Johannesburg Mayor Mpho Phalatse has moved to assure residents her government plans to deal with unreliable electricity, water supply and provide relief to over-indebted residents. 

Phalatse gave her first state of the city address on Thursday. 

She said since the DA-led multiparty coalition government took over the city in November 2021, they have been on a relentless clean-up campaign. 

Phalatse focused her speech entirely on what she hoped to see changed in the city within the coming months and years while she remains in office. 

Top on her list was ensuring it relies less on Eskom for electricity and incorporates independent power producers (IPPs) into the city's energy mix. 

She said the IPPs would be a long-term strategy for the city, but now, it has extended its power purchase agreement with the Kelvin power station for 2024. 

This, she said, would provide "security and reliability to customers". 

Another key takeaway from Phalatse's speech was the city's target of relieving pressure on communities that were unable to pay for services.

READ | Joburg mayor puts a freeze on appointments in City of Joburg

The city will introduce a proposal in council which will have 100% of debt written off for customers that are pensioners or indigent. This forms part of its debt rehabilitation programme. 

"We have re-instituted the debt rehabilitation programme, which aims to assist defaulting customers to bring their outstanding municipal accounts up to date. Qualifying customers will receive a 50% debt write-off, with a further write-off on the outstanding debt over a three-year period, if they comply with all the conditions associable with the programme," Phalatse said.

She added:

Council will soon be presented with a report recommending radical changes to the qualifying criteria. For example, a 100% of debt above 90 days will be written off where the applicant is a pensioner or registered indigent.

The city has no plans to stop clamping down on customers who are not paying for services despite being able to afford them. 

Since January, it has seen an increase in revenue collection when it began a campaign to switch off customers who have not paid. 

The city has surpassed its R4 billion a month target in revenue collection since the campaign picked up steam. 

Phalatse said it was working hard to turn around its struggling entities. In the 2020/21 financial year, not a single entity in Johannesburg received a clean audit, and R3 billion was spent irregularly. 

Opposition expresses disappointment at Phalatse's speech 

The ANC said Phalatse's speech lacked substance and did not outline a policy direction for the city for the next five years. 

"She has said nothing about what she has done since taking over on 22 November. The city is collapsing, and service delivery has collapsed. Some areas have had no water for weeks," ANC caucus leader Mpho Moerane said. 

The EFF shared similar sentiments, saying the city was in tatters. 

"She could not even take more than an hour addressing the council, which tells us she did not have much to tell us. We have an electricity problem; robots are not working. We did not expect much from her," EFF councillor Sepetlele Raseruthe said. 

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