An application by Eskom for an electricity price increase of 20.5% for its 2023 financial year, which is set to take effect from 1 April 2022, has been condemned by the agricultural sector.
“It is unacceptable that Eskom’s losses caused by corruption are recovered from paying customers,” said Francois Wilken, president of Free State Agriculture (FSA).
This follows the state-owned power utility’s application to NERSA to increase electricity costs by 20.5% in the new year.
“Eskom is pushing to ensure that electricity prices can be implemented by 1 April 2022. They therefore want to submit the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (NERSA) approved tariff to Parliament before 15 March 2022,” Wilken explained.
According to Dr Jack Armour, commercial manager of FSA, Eskom’s application contains three separate documents applying for price increases in power generation, transmission and distribution.
“The unbundling that President Ramaphosa referred to in the SONA is therefore continuing,” he said.
Armour believes that the competition for Eskom for generation will still be tough, despite the R131 billion injection that was promised to South Africa during COP-26 to help bring about a transition to green power.
“The public cannot be responsible for funding Eskom to expand its own alternative power generation capacities in competition with the private sector,” he said.
Free State agriculture said it would make a written submission to NERSA by the deadline of 14 January 2022. The organisation also plans to make an official submission to NERSA during the public hearings to oppose the proposals.
“Agriculture will not survive the ESKOM increases, if approved, along with all the other rising input costs!” Wilken cautioned.
Food relief in time for Christmas
As part of her constituency work, Eastern Cape MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reform, Nonkqubela Pieters, brought food relief to residents of the Kou-Kamma local municipality in time for Christmas.
60 grocery combos consisting of canned relish, staple food groceries, toiletries and fleece blankets were handed out by Pieters in Joubertina, Kariega and Tsitsikamma
The food relief is spearheaded by the department of rural development and agrarian reform’s special programs unit.
According to Pieters the food intervention was meant to assuage the poverty that makes the festive season, especially the Christmas day, a gloomy time for the less fortunate.
“Our government is progressive. We don’t just give you fish, but we teach you how to fish. After seeing that the program of handouts isn’t viable, we came with the household food security programme where we assist household food producers with inputs and gardening tools so they can produce their own food.
“Today we are giving you Christmas gifts, but you need to learn to produce your own food and the department’s household food security programme is the solution to this,” Pieters told recipients.
She said the provincial government realised that many citizens lived in abject poverty, but those who benefited from the government aid were those whose situations were more dire than the rest.
“Initially, we had targeted the elderly, but later realised that there were child-headed households whose situation were even worse and we had to change the criteria in which the beneficiaries were selected.
But through the household food security program we believe that the number of dependents from social interventions will have gone down by next year,” she said.
One of the beneficiaries from Louterwater, Bongela Mkwelo, who survives through her children’s social grants, said she had only salt and cooking oil in her cupboards before the donation by Pieters.
“I used the social grant money to buy my children Christmas clothes so they could be happy among other children their age. We had accepted that we wouldn’t have food, but the food hampers by the MEC [Pieters] have brought new hope,” she said.
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