Fight for survival

Michael Jacobs, deputy chairperson, Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association

It has come to the attention of the Mitchell’s Plain United Residents’ Association (MURA) that some in our communities are struggling to survive as they are being hit with massive electricity and water bills.

It is clear to those in poor communities that the City of Cape Town municipality is under the cloak of its indigent policy, which profess to assist the poor and those in need, hiding nothing but a repressive electricity, rates and water tariff regime.

The poorer communities are the first to be punished when it comes to outstanding municipal debt and threatened with electricity and water cut-offs, including eviction from their homes for failure to pay.

How many businesses who owe huge amounts on their municipal accounts are facing eviction, electricity and water cut-offs?

For the last couple of years the City has been using the non-payment issue as a way to introduce the wholesale privatisation of water and electricity in the form of prepaid meters and in some cases denying people their basic human right of access to water.

Individual households are penalised, due to no fault of their own, by providing accommodation in the form of wendy houses or backyard dwellings to relatives as there seems to be no immediate solution to the housing crisis with the result that they have higher electricity and water tariffs.

So how can the local municipality assist those households who provide these services to backyard dwellers without being penalised?

We as Mura advocate for the local municipality to immediately provide the basic infrastructure to backyard dwellers in the form of electricity connections and piped water to lighten the burden on individual homeowners who are prejudiced by the council for providing these services.

Mura therefore demand that homeowners who accommodate backyarders on their properties be allocated an amount of a 1000 litres of water free per day and also to be given 350 units of free electricity per month.

Mura further demands that the council exclude the value of homeowners’ properties as one of the criteria to qualify for the indigent grant.

Mura demands that a single rate for electricity to be applicable to individual households instead of having different rates which is not assisting the poor and poorer communities at all.

Mura also demands that the City apply a single rate to water instead of separating it into categories of water usage and sewerage.

Mura stands for caring, responsible and safe communities which will endeavour to uplift our community and to safeguard individuals’ dignity and communities by keeping local municipalities accountable for the equitable delivery of services with a particular bias towards the poor and poorer communities.