The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) will seek an urgent interdict in the High Court in Pretoria next week to stop implementation of the 9.4% electricity price hike.
“After various unfruitful requests by… Outa and other parties to receive the written reasons from Nersa [National Energy Regulator of South Africa] for its decision to permit Eskom to implement a 9.4% electricity tariff increase, the organisation has been left with no choice but to approach the North Gauteng High Court in an attempt to obtain an interdict against the implementation of the increase on the 1st of April 2016,” Outa director of legal affairs Ivan Herselman said on Friday.
In answer to Outa’s request to supply the public with the reasons for its decision to grant Eskom a 9.4% increase, Nersa had declined to provide details around their decision that gave rise to the implementation of the higher tariff, he said.
In their response to Outa, Nersa cited possible “confidential” information which it first had to clear with Eskom, before they could release parts of the information to the public.
“These answers will in all likelihood only come to the fore well after the electricity tariff increases have been implemented, well outside the period the public is able to assess and comment on validity of the reasons for their decision.”
We have concerns regarding the lack of transparency and manner in which Nersa arrived at their decision to approve the tariff
This cast doubt on the legitimacy of the entire public participation process of Eskom’s regulatory clearing account (RCA) hearings. Outa believed that the tariff hike should be challenged before being implemented on April 1.
Outa’s executive team had unanimously decided that it was in the public’s best interests to intervene with haste, since it was unlikely that “this egg could ever be unscrambled after the tariff has already been increased”.
“As matters stand now, we will be in court on the 31st of March for the application for an interdict to be heard. We have concerns regarding the lack of transparency and manner in which Nersa arrived at their decision to approve the tariff. We simply had to react and challenge Nersa’s approval of the increase, and Eskom’s implementation thereof, while the public is being left in the dark as to why this has been approved,” Herselman said.
Should Outa succeed with the interdict, Eskom would be prohibited from implementing the electricity tariff increase until Nersa had provided Outa and the public with sufficient reasons for their decision. Additionally, the organisation needed to be afforded an opportunity to challenge the decision and set it aside, he said.