City to continue disconnecting defaulters

The City of Windhoek is refusing to follow a recent Electricity Control Board (ECB) directive not to disconnect prepaid electricity meters on the basis of non-electricity related arrears, such as water, rates and taxes.

The municipality’s spokesperson Harold Akwenye told The Namibian on Wednesday the municipality will only follow through with the ECB’s directive when there is a policy in place.

“If the decision by the ECB is promulgated, surely we will comply,” Akwenye said.

Speaking to One Africa on Monday, Akwenye said there is a need for legal consultation regarding the ECB’s ruling, which was made two weeks ago, to the relief of residents.

ECB chief executive Robert Kahimise said they made the ruling following a customer complaint with regards to a local authority blocking prepaid meters for municipal accounts in arrears.

He said this practice is not allowed under the Electricity Act of 2007, which states that the discontinuation or termination of electricity or arrears can only be done in respect of arrears arising from the distribution and supply of electricity.

He said section 36(2) of the Electricity Act provides that in the case of conflict between the Local Authorities Act and the Electricity Act in respect of the supply of electricity, the provisions of the Electricity Act prevails.

“The same applies to any subordinate legislation issued under the acts. Any efforts and/or activities, including any procedural and/or operational policies of local authorities relating to the provision of electricity, must therefore comply with the Electricity Act and any rules or codes made under the Electricity Act,” Kahimise said.

Kahimise noted that the ECB ruling does not apply to consolidated municipal accounts – where the electricity account (postpaid), water, sewage and rates and taxes are billed in one consolidated statement.

“In case of a consolidated municipal account, the local authority must be able to clearly account for the customer’s electricity account as required by the Electricity Act,” he said.

He called on regional councils and local authorities to immediately cease the practice of blocking prepaid electricity meters to recover arrears on other municipal services.

“They are urged to explore alternative debt recovery methods that comply with the relevant legislation,” Kahimise said.


Katutura Residents Committee spokesperson Shaun Gariseb called the municipality “arrogant” for not following through with the ECB’s directive.
He urged the ECB to institute penalties on those regional and local authorities that do not adhere to the directive.

“The ECB must also communicate penalties. It is because they have not done so and that is why the City of Windhoek does this. If the ECB penalises them they will obey their directive. This municipality is run by arrogant thieves who steal money from residents through that billing system, disobeying the law, and other scrupulous practices,” Gariseb said.

He accused the municipality of undermining institutions such as the line minister, the ombudsman, the competition commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission and even the auditor general “The municipality just doesn’t want to cooperate with anyone,” Gariseb said.

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