Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Thursday  the National Energy Regulator of SA's (Nersa’s) decision to increase electricity tariffs in 2019/2020 was  "simply unacceptable".

"Given the poor state of the national economy and the massive corruption at Eskom itself, the city, on the behalf of our residents, had argued that the proposed tariff increases were simply unacceptable," Mashaba said in a statement on Thursday.

Nersa announced earlier that South Africans would have to cough up 9.41% more for electricity. It also approved increases of 8.1% for 2020/2021 and 5.22% for 2021/2022.

Eskom had applied for hikes of 17.1% for 2019, 15.4% for 2020 and 17.5% for 2021.

Industry had argued strongly for the regulator to reject Eskom's application for a 17.1% rise.

According to the Minerals Council SA, if Eskom succeeded 40% of mining, refining and smelting companies would be lost; annual gold mining output would fall from 132-tonnes to 20-tonnes; and 150,000 direct jobs could be lost.

Eskom also said on Thursday that "there is a high risk of rotational load-shedding today, but will only be implemented if absolutely necessary".

The utility said that while it did not cut power on Wednesday, "the system is still tight and vulnerable".

"While the city is appreciative of Nersa’s willingness to hear the voice of our residents, businesses and all South Africans, it is still our view that the present increase serves only to reward maladministration and corruption which has gutted Eskom," Mashaba said.

Mashaba said the poorest in the country would suffer the most because of the increase.

"For the poorest members of our society, life is set to become that much harder as a result of this increase. In addition, the rise in tariffs will also continue to place struggling businesses under strain, hampering the prospects for economic growth," he said.