PLEASE NOTE: Swellengram remains politically neutral while striving to represent all viewpoints fairly.
Update from the Mayor:
The atmosphere in Swellendam continues to be tense in the wake of recent events. The individuals mentioned in the ‘shutdown’ application appeared in court on September 25, and the case against Sello January Maela and Vuyo Hlcolo has been postponed to October 13, 2023; they remain in custody.
The Swellendam Municipality is actively investigating the involvement of other parties in the application process. An interdict has been obtained against seven respondents, including Maela, Hlcolo and respondent 8 (any individuals or groups associated with them in the Swellendam Municipal area). This interdict prohibits unlawful protests, property damage, violence, intimidation, and road blockages. It also covers the proposed ‘shutdown’ by the EFF and other parties on October 2, 2023. Violators of the interdict will face prosecution to the fullest extent of the law.OGREE
Furthermore, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) has confirmed that the Swellendam Municipality’s Indigent support policy complies with their guidelines. The Municipality has maintained the indigent support benefit, requiring potential beneficiaries to apply. Unfortunately, there have been reports of intimidation among residents in informal settlements, hindering their applications. To address this issue, the Municipality is developing an online application process to enable residents to apply securely from their homes.
The Municipality is in the process of filing a cost claim for damages incurred during the August and September protests, with an initial estimate of direct damages at R50 million. The Municipal Manager reiterates that free basic services are available to those who apply and qualify under the Council-approved policy.
Despite the challenges, the Municipality urges residents to refrain from being influenced by misinformation and to verify information directly with the Municipality. They call on all residents to actively engage in nation-building and safeguard South African democracy by respecting the rule of law. Stressing the importance of unity, the Municipality emphasizes the need to address differences within the legal framework and preserve the legacy of the rainbow nation. Rejecting violence and vandalism, the community must collaborate to protect South Africa’s democracy at all costs.
The Municipality expresses deep gratitude to all law enforcement officers and stakeholders for their unwavering support during this challenging period. Both the Municipality and the community remain resolute in their commitment to halting senseless destruction, recognizing its disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable members of our community.
This is the full response from the Mayor Francois Du Rand regarding the memorandum presented to him at a public demonstration on Wednesday August 30th. Click the Download button to read
On Wednesday, August 30th, a community group in Swellendam handed this memorandum to the Mayor during a protest march.
30th AUGUST 2023
Delivered by hand,
Today, the 30* of August 2023, marks a decisive moment in the history and struggle of the people of Swellendam Municipal area. We are a collective of different cultures, ordinary people and workers in Swellendam Municipal area and stand firmly to express our anger, frustration and disappointment at the lack of resources and solutions offered by the Mayor, DA and FF councillors.
This is a united group representing 1000’s not able to attend. The goal is to demand that Swellendam Municipality revise their entire Electricity Tariff Setting and Indigence Policy and their inadequate implementation of Public Participation. Over the years Swellendam acted in an aggressive, uncooperative and non-transparent manner which is aimed at excluding the wider public and serving only a few.
The Mayor complaints that it will “lose” thousand if the electricity tariffs are lowered.
However, the same Mayor is quiet about the provisional SURPLUS reported in the July
2023 Financial Monitoring report for 2022/23.
We therefore demand that Swellendam Municipality area immediately desist alienating and exploiting the Public. Being inclusive must be set as a core goal by the Swellendam Municipal Administration. Swellendam Municipal Strategy to persist in making enemies out of the public is grossly failing.
Dear Mayor, we are not marching to the ANC or ESKOM for the simple reason that the Western Cape and Swellendam Municipality is under majority DA rule. Nor Eskom nor the ANC can overturn any of the exploitive tariffs and policies your DA and FF Council, under your leadership, votes for.
It is your Swellendam Council, led by you, that approves the policies we are complaining about, with their majority year after year. It is the Council you lead that approves not upholding the rule of Law and flouting NERSA. It is your Council under your leadership that agrees to transfer R2.61 cents per unit for electricity we buy to the rates department.
This inflates our tariff by more than 10%. It is your council that approves the electricity tariffs and debt collection policy.
OUR DEMANDS ARE AS FOLLOWS:
1. We demand that Swellendam Municipality immediately amends the illegal withdraw of the, Indigent Policy for review and Public Participation and bring back the 50 and
20 Free units. Swellendam Municipality must uphold the Rule of Law, not only when it suits Swellendam Municipality, but also where citizens are affected.
We demand that the R11.00 divers on our accounts for potholes must be removed and scrap.
We demand that Swellendam Municipality finance department immediately corrects the erroneous perception of the Mayor and DA / FF councillors and educate them about how an electricity tariff is set.
10% transferred to Rates
40% salaries & overheads
60% Eskom direct
Do employees in the Electricity Department get salary increases of 18.6%?
Did the cost of materials go up by 18,65%? NO. Salaries increase below inflation and materials on par with inflation. Why was the contribution to rates also increased by 18,6%.
40% cost increased by around 7%
60% direct Eskom costs by 18.6%
This is the correct calculation and reflects the 15,1% set by NERSA.
2. We demand that with immediate effect that Swellendam Municipality removes the unregulated R11.62 added for potholes to subsidize the Infrastructure Department.
The Mayor repeatedly says that departments in Swellendam Municipality are ring fenced. So what is this where the Electricity department funds Rates department to the tune of electricity hikes revenue?
3. We demand that the link to Property Values is entirely abolished and that the electricity block tariffs are removed and made the same for all non – indigent users.
4. Pensioners should automatically receive rebates which must include free units similar to indigent and the Fixed Charges and Levies should be waived for pensioners. The long queues and red tape, draining pensioners when they repeatedly have to reapply for their rebate is shameful.
5. Block of households electricity for any reasons whatsoever should stop, because the residents go to Geodept to make arrangements but they refuse residents when they come with small amounts of monies.
6. Illegal connections should be prioritized and removed and electricity must be supplied and mete to ALL areas.
7. Street-lights must be switched off during the day to save electricity as this cost is included in the unregulated portion of the tariff.
8. The working class must no longer be exploited to pay for Swellendam Municipality lavish budget and expenditure on activities which are not directly attributable to service delivery. The burden of the ever increasing non – service delivery activities of Swellendam Municipality has become intolerable and simply unaffordable forcing many households into debt and despair.
9. There should be an reward incentive like a small amount of free units if electricity is used sparingly.
10. The Swellendam Municipality received R41 million for indigent grant from National Government for the book year 2023/2024. We therefore say that there is enough money for the provision of free electricity units for black, coloured and whites who qualified.
11. The Swellendam Municipality should do away with service providers who also take a share off the indigenous grant that is suppose to come to the poor blacks and coloureds.
In order to resolve the above issues and to set up a formal channel of communication with Swellendam Municipality administration:
1. We demand that Swellendam Municipality put forward a senior level panel with in – depth knowledge and the necessary authority to champion the remedy of these grievances. These persons must be knowledgeable in Swellendam Municipality Budget setting process, tariff setting and debt collection and indigent policies to engage with our group to resolve the issues in this memorandum.
2. The outcome of these engagements must be put forward to council for debate and Public Participation
3. We demand a written response by Monday, 4t September 2023 to this memorandum from the office of the Municipal Manager on every single point in this memorandum. The signatures pledges that the Swellendam Municipality agrees this date for the written response.
4. Swellendam Municipality must be formulated in writing to reflect the following:
i. names of the persons designated to the panel that will act on behalf of Swellendam to liaise with the authors of this Memorandum.
il. Time-frames for actions to be taken will be decided at the first meeting with Swellendam Municipal Officials on matters in this memorandum.
ill. Each point addressed separately and in full by Swellendam Municipality.
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