No electricity, no vote, say protesters

Johannesburg residents demonstrating for free basic electricity threatened on Thursday to boycott next year’s general election if their demands were not met.

“They are failing us, therefore no electricity, no vote, and no water, no vote,” Anti-Privatisation Forum spokesperson Silumko Radebe told a group of protesters outside Luthuli House in central Johannesburg.

Radebe said that in 1995, the government had promised the people free basic services, including water, electricity and housing.

At the Johannesburg Metropolitan Centre in Braamfontein, calls were made for Johannesburg City mayor Amos Masondo to personally accept and sign a memorandum of demands.

Instead, a city representative appeared on the mayor’s behalf, as Masondo was apparently in a city council meeting.

“He is never available when we, the people who placed him in power, want to address our problems with him,” said an elderly protester, who did not want to be named.

Refusing to deal with the city representative, Radebe said they would wait until Masondo presented himself to accept and sign their memorandum.

Earlier, at Eskom’s offices, a memorandum was accepted and signed by director general Bulelani Khoza.

“We accept a memorandum in good faith, we will attend to it seriously, we will study the memo and respond in due time,” said Khoza, further apologising to Gauteng’s elderly residents for the lack of electricity.

At the Minerals and Energy Department, a smiling administrator accepted and signed the memorandum on behalf of the ministers, drawing sharp criticism from Earthlife Africa member Nqobile Tau.

“You are disarming the people with your smiles. We don’t want your smiles, we want electricity,” he said.

The protest was expected to end at the Johannesburg Civic Centre.—Sapa


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