The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), approached the North Gauteng High Court for an interdict to prohibit Eskom from implementing the electricity tariff increase of 9.4% on the 1st of April 2016, purely on the grounds that no reasons had been provided for their decision, as was required for the National Energy Regulator (NERSA) to do.
On the 29th of March, after OUTA had already launched their application, NERSA then provided their written reasons for their decision. OUTA argued that insufficient time had been made available for the organization 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,” says Ivan Herselman, OUTA Director of Legal Affairs.
OUTA was not the only party challenging the increase, however the other parties decided to enter into a settlement agreement with Eskom and NERSA to waive the interdict in exchange for expedited dates for a review application. We believed it was necessary to seek the interdict and decided to proceed with the hearing.
Naturally, we are disappointed that the ruling did not go our way, but we remain committed to ensuring that improved transparency and meaningful engagement with the public on matters of importance takes place. While urgent applications are inherently risky, that doesn’t mean that we should not seek to bring these to the courts when we believe it is necessary to do so. Our alternative was to do nothing and when weighing up the rule of law on this matter, we had to act.
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. “The incessant electricity tariff hikes over the past few years has become outrageously unbearable and the public have a right to scrutinize and demand greater efficiency and prudent management from this inefficient state owned entity,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s Chairperson.