Gray accused the government of operating in silos.
“Eskom and Nersa must consider that the Reserve Bank will be forced to pitch up interest rates to keep inflation down and this will mean that our GDP will contract, which means we will have even more unemployment. This increase from Eskom is going to entrench us in poverty,” he said.
Johannesburg mayor Mpho Phalatse, also at the picket, echoed Gray’s sentiments.
“The multiparty government in Joburg rejects the 20% tariff hike. Our people are crying, unemployed, they want jobs, our people don’t need a tariff hike at the moment,” she said.
Instead of hiking prices, the city should look at big businesses and government departments that owe it money and leave ordinary ratepayers alone, said Phalatse.
“Our ratepayers are complaining, some are thinking of relocating and emigrating because the cost of living is just too high. They feel they are not treated fairly,” she said.
Phalatse said the Eskom monopoly must end.
“We believe that when we open up for greater participation by independent power producers, small-scale energy generators, we will begin seeing competition lowering the price for our consumers.”
Phalatse said the city will be hosting an energy indaba in March to which suppliers, innovators, academics and entrepreneurs would be invited to deliberate on the energy crisis and come up with possible solutions.
“We cannot afford to have load-shedding, constant power outages because of areas that don’t have electricity, illegal connections, vandalism of our infrastructure. We need to find solutions collectively and resolve the energy issue in Joburg.
“While we do that, we will be opening up competition. With more players in the energy space, we believe our people will be well served.”
The DA has launched a petition against the proposed hike, calling on South Africans “to not pay for electricity that they do not get”. It has been signed by 23,815 people so far.