Ramaphosa warns: The days of boycotting electricity payments are over

20 June 2019 - 20:33 By THABO MOKONE
President Cyril Ramaphosa during his state of the nation address in parliament on Thursday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa during his state of the nation address in parliament on Thursday.
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday announced that government would clamp down on the culture of non-payment for electricity as part of plans to rescue the struggling power utility Eskom.

In his state of the nation address, Ramaphosa said the "days of boycotting electricity payment" were over.

Eskom, which is drowning in debt of nearly R500bn, is owed billions of rand by government departments and residents.

Residents of Soweto alone owe the state-owned company more than R17bn.

Ramaphosa said the government was already working on a plan to recover the debt.

"As a country, we must assert the principle that those who use electricity must pay for it. Failure to pay endangers our entire electricity supply, our economy and our efforts to create jobs.  The days of boycotting payment are over. This is now the time to build. It is the time for all of us to make our own contribution."

LISTEN: The State of the Nation address in full

Ramaphosa also announced that Eskom would receive another "urgent" financial boost from government to help it meet its financial obligations which could run to R230bn over the next 10 years.

Government will soon table a special appropriation bill to urgently allocate more money to the cash-strapped Eskom.

This is on top of the R69bn that finance minister Tito Mboweni allocated to Eskom in his budget speech in February to help it pay its debts amounting to nearly R500bn.

"This we must do because Eskom is too vital to our economy to be allowed to fail."

Ramaphosa said Mboweni would soon provide more details of the latest Eskom rescue package.

Politicians spoke to the media on June 20 2019 after the second instalment of the state of the nation address by President Cyril Ramaphosa.