• Soweto owes Eskom almost R20 billion.
  • Some 25% of Soweto electricity users now pay for their power – up from only 12% three months ago.
  • Eskom itself has also started playing hardball, disconnecting power to thousands of Soweto households who are not paying.
  • Eskom CEO André de Ruyter  has ascribed the recent change in the rate of payment to political intervention.
  • For more stories, visit Business Insider South Africa.

Some 25% of Soweto electricity users now pay for their power – up from only 12% three months ago, Eskom CEO André de Ruyter told Business Insider South Africa.

Soweto owes Eskom almost R20 billion - almost half of the total local municipal debt owed to the utility.

“There's been a lot of good work done in Soweto of late,” De Ruyter said, ascribing the recent change in the rate of payment to political intervention.

“The payment rate in Soweto was historically around 12% and it's already improved to 25%. That's a more than doubling in payment rates. And that's over a three-month period since various political leaders made an appeal to Soweto residents to pay.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa and finance minister Tito Mboweni have publicly called on those in Soweto to start paying some of the leaders who called on residents to pay.

But Eskom itself has also started playing hardball: disconnecting power to thousands of Soweto households who are not paying, or interfering with electricity meters.

Asked if disconnections are on the table, De Ruyter was non-committal.

“Clearly there have to be consequences. If you do not pay then ultimately you cannot expect to continue to receive services for which you don’t pay. But it is a thorny political problem, and I think as I’ve indicated, residents of Soweto thus far have responded well,” De Ruyter said.

“It gives me hope for more of these interventions going forward.”

Soweto ANC councillor Mpho Sesedinyane proposed in November that a flat rate for electricity (of around R150) could help foster a culture of payment among Soweto residents. But Eskom was not positive about the proposal.

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