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Thu Oct 02 10:24:58 SAST 2014

Power to the people - but not without paying for it

The Times Editorial | 21 November, 2012 00:44

The Times Editorial: The tendency not to pay for government services, even when we have the means to do so, is becoming the norm in this country.

Yesterday, Eskom said that it has lost close to R1.2-billion to energy theft this year and that the amount rises annually.

Take Soweto, where massive infrastructure investments have been made by the government to improve quality of life.

But Sowetans, who buy electricity direct from Eskom, have racked up a R200-million debt for power supplies in the past six months.

Only 20% of the amount with which Soweto residents have been billed has been recovered.

But Soweto is not the only offender.

The people of almost all the townships in which the majority of black South Africans live continue not to pay for electricity.

This tendency, which others have described as symptomatic of a "culture of entitlement", must be corrected if we are to establish a culture of responsibility.

Eskom yesterday said it wanted a permanent solution to the tendency of non-payment for services rendered, and that it hoped its biggest shareholder - the Department of Public Enterprises, under minister Malusi Gigaba, would come up with a permanent fix.

As we report in our business section, Gigaba's department said it was considering whether to write off the debt to Eskom or do more to get residents to pay.

If we are serious about building a nation that cares about its future, we should not be talking about write-off's as the first step in finding a solution.

Money spent on non-essentials and luxuries indicates that most South Africans can afford to pay for services.

Those who don't pay rob those people in genuine need of government assistance of essential services.

If all of us paid for services rendered, South Africa would be in a better shape to help the indigent.

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Thu Oct 02 10:24:58 SAST 2014 ::