Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Richard Baloyi's speech at Ratanda community meeting
1 Apr 2012Project: “Way forward”
Today we are here to give you feedback on project “Ratanda: Way Forward”, which focuses on the work of the “Inter-sphere Task Team” operating jointly with the Ratanda Residents’ Forum, and established to investigate the people’s complaints that gave rise to the protests that engulfed this Township when people took to the streets from Monday, 19 March to Thursday, 22 March.
The investigation by the Task Team was conducted with the intention to find solutions to the issues raised and give a report back to the community, as we hereby do.
I now present the report as follows:
Two different types of demands were identified, namely:
1. Primary demands
These are the types of demands that are at the centre of the dissatisfaction raised by the people of Ratanda Township and on which the Ratanda Community Forum (RCF) has been engaging with the Municipality for sometimes before the period of 19 to 22 March referred to earlier in this report.
In this category we have one issue: The dissatisfaction associated with the distribution of electricity, with eight elements, as follows:
The way forward on this matter is as follows:
- That the municipality electricity rates are high and they are determined without consultation;
- That the community would be better served if they were to have electricity directly distributed by Eskom instead of the Lesedi Municipality;
- That the combination of all the billed municipal services into one bill exposes the service users to a practice where they are sanctioned against the use of electricity when they default in payment of other services;
- As a result of that combination, some “pre-paid” electricity users are blocked from buying electricity because they owe, say water and/or property rates;
- There are conventional electricity users who have their cables cut off by the municipality without notifying the house owners;
- Some municipal workers use combined billing system as an opportunity to treat the people unbecomingly when they raise queries associated with their statements;
- The quality of the bills generated for conventional electricity users leave much to be desired, as there are concerns that meter-readers do not do their work, which result in estimated recordings.
- Some challenges were identified in the implementation of the indigent policy of the municipality, ranging from lack of awareness to compliance.
- There was consultation on the current municipality’s tariff on electricity usage, which comes to the end in June 2012,
- The municipality has commenced with consultations for the financial Year starting in July 2012, and we call on all interested people to participate on this matter according to the municipality’s programme.
- It would be in the best interest of the community for the municipality to continue to distribute electricity directly to the people, as one of the identified services that Government at a local level should provide.
- It would be of value rather to address the challenges associated with the distribution of electricity, than move the responsibility to Eskom, as follows:
- The immediate delinking of the different services when managing default in payment, in that a sanction will be applied only in the area of default.
- No pre-paid electricity users will be blocked from buying because they are in default of payment for other services.
- Those prepaid electricity users who are blocked because they owe in any of the other services will be unblocked. In fact the municipality has started to unblock those people.
- Those electricity users who have their cables cut off because they owe in the other areas will be re-connected. In fact the municipality has already started to reconnect them.
- Those electricity users who have their cables cut off for other reasons will be immediately reconnected, and placed on a sample assessment of one hundred meters that will be conducted over a period of a month, after which the situation will be managed according to the results of such investigations.
- Default payment, including arrears will be managed in strict compliance with the policies of the municipality, directed to each service
- Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) national will investigate the applicability of water load management/water consumption restriction to a trickle, as a credit control measure to manage non-payment in the delivery of this service, for possible implementation with effect from July 2012.
- The municipality will open a Service User Support Office (SUSO) that will provide on-the-spot queue service management and respond to queries.
- The municipality will tighten their management to the service provider to ensure that estimated statements are kept to the minimum, and encourage the community to facilitate access to their properties for meter reading.
- CoGTA National will conduct an investigation on the future viable electricity distribution, either by the Municipality or Eskom, and to report progress in four months, i.e August 2012.
- There will be an improvement in the implementation management of the indigent policy, in that:
- There will be awareness drives on the policies
- The ward council meetings, which will be held once a quarter, will have “indigent policy” as a standing item
- The municipality will ensure that it takes a maximum of three months for first applicant indigents to be recognised.
2. Secondary demands
These are demands based on issues that fall outside the main ones raised by the RCF, but they come into the picture as associated demands by people identifiable only as community leaders.
Noting that there is a need to provide details in some of these issues, a joint forum has been established, comprising of the RCF and Government, to further deal with these issues.
It also became clear that some of these associated demands are political questions, and we have accordingly referred same to political processes.
As you are all aware that the community protest we are talking about today denoted unfortunate features of violence with destruction of property, it is a reality that there are people who have been arrested, and are currently dealing with this matter in terms of the rule of law.
The way forward on this matter is that we allow the due process of the law to run its course.
Yes, Programme Director,
On Thursday, the 22nd of March 2012, we requested the community of Ratanda to give us time to address their concerns as project “Way forward”.
We said then that we would confront the situation and that they should give peace a chance.
We said we will report back to the community.
We thank the people for supporting that move.
We request the community to interpret this report as a contribution to pave a way for the Ratanda community to return to the peaceful zone it is known of, and for the municipality to fully demonstrate that they deserve to hold the Vuna Award status for life. Enquiries:
Adv. Tommy Ntsewa
Cell: 082 052 4600
Issued by: Department of Cooperative Governance
1 Apr 2012
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