The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said Thursday’s court decision to dismiss with costs its urgent application to interdict Eskom from implementing the approved tariff increase by 9,4% on April 1 2016 would not deter it.
“Setting aside the urgency of our application does not in any way deter us from proceeding with a review of the reasons and to seek the necessary information for the granting of the tariff hike,” said Outa chairman Wayne Duvenage in a statement.
“The incessant electricity tariff hikes over the past few years have become outrageously unbearable and the public have a right to scrutinise and demand greater efficiency and prudent management from this inefficient state-owned entity,” he said.
The court decision means that Eskom’s electricity tariff increase becomes effective from Friday for its direct customers and 1 July 2016 for municipal customers, Eskom said in a statement on Friday.
“Eskom is pleased with the decision of the court as this allows us to begin recovering the R11,2bn revenue as approved by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa),” said Anoj Singh, chief financial officer for Eskom.
“We have cooperated with the legal process and we will continue to do so while also defending the process we have followed in the recovery of costs we incurred in the provision of electricity.”
Outa said it sought the urgent interdict “purely on the grounds that no reasons had been provided for their decision, as was required for the Nersa to do”.
On 29 March, after Outa had already launched its application, Nersa then provided their written reasons for its decision.
Outa argued that insufficient time had been made available for the organisation to meaningfully consider the reasons and facts provided by Nersa, before the tariffs come into effect.
“We sincerely believed that the harm to the public will be irreversible as it is not practical for Eskom and municipalities to repay or credit millions of consumers if their reasons are to be found wanting,” said Ivan Herselman, Outa director of legal affairs.
During trial on Thursday, the judge pointed out the damage Eskom could suffer if the price increase was delayed by 30 days.
Eskom spokesman Khulu Phasiwe, who was present at the hearing, tweeted statements by Nersa’s legal counsel, describing Outa’s application as “ridiculous”, “astonishing”, and “a legal absurdity”.