The African National Congress (ANC) in the Northern Cape says it has instructed the Sol Plaatje Municipality to consult with community members before implementing an 11% electricity hike.

The proposed hike was expected kick in, in April.

In 2018, a similar proposal was met with violent protest, but the municipality says all due processes will be followed.

Chaotic scenes occurred in 2018 as community members were unhappy about a R260 electricity hike. This led to the suspension of Sol Plaatje’s former mayor, Mangaliso Matika and his Chief Financial Officer Lydia Mahloko.

The municipality has now again put a proposed electricity hike on the table, but the ANC in province says residents must be consulted first.

“As soon as that process is done, then they can revert to us, with a draft budget of some sort. But we will also be very careful in terms of why is that an unreasonable hike. Once they come with unreasonable hikes, we will reject that outright. They should be reasonable. Look, we are living in very hard economic times and that should be taken into consideration,” says Northern Cape ANC Secretary, Deshi Ngxanga.

The Community Forum says any increase should be in line with what the residents can afford.

“We raised the fact that they’ve come up with this and it was published in the newspaper and it seems that this is what they want to do, and that we simply, as a community forum, cannot accept this. We believe this new proposed tariffs won’t be affordable to the residents as they take us back to 2018, even worse in some instances,” says Community Forum leader, Tumelo Mosikare.

The municipality says they are intending to follow proper channels and meet with the community as that was only a draft budget.

“There is legislation that requires that we, as the municipality, must go out and discuss the budget with the different stakeholders and meetings will be scheduled in all areas of the municipality. This is an opportunity now for residents to provide their inputs, to ask questions,” says Sol Plaatje Municipality Spokesperson, Sello Matsie.

With meetings set to take place over five days, the community forum says there is not enough time to consult with residents. There are fears of a repeat of 2018’s tensions if uncertainty over a solution persists.