Opinion

Eskom May Have Violated The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act

By Sam Ditshego

Eskom has possibly violated Section 33 of the constitution and the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act No.3 of 2000 for having cut off electricity for a week now without prior notification. A handful of people say they received smses which state different reasons for electricity disruptions.

The Promotion of Administrative Justice Act, 2000 (Act No. 3 of 2000) (“PAJA”) gives effect to the right to administrative action that is lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair as well as to the right to written reasons for administrative action as contemplated in Section 33 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996. It seeks to make the administration effective and accountable to people for its actions. Together with the Constitution it embraces the Batho Pele Principles and promotes South African citizens’ right to just administration. This section of the Constitution also ensures that people have the right to ask for written reasons when administrative action has a negative impact on them.

In applying PAJA, administrators achieve the following:

• Facilitate the ability of citizens to access their constitutional rights to just and fair administrative action;

• Enable citizens to actively participate in the decision-making process;
• Ensure that organs of state are accountable and transparent; and
• Promote lawful, reasonable and procedurally fair decision making processes.

Eskom has cut off electricity in Masibi-Langa without prior notice. There was no just and fair administrative action because only a few houses – about ten – out of 72 houses were targeted yet others were not inspected apparently at the behest of Ward 9 Councillor who told a gathering of residents that he has no role to play in matters involving Eskom and residents. According to PAJA he is dead wrong. He is reported to have told some residents that residents in my area have not voted for him so he thinks he is not obliged to serve them. Again he is dead wrong and clearly demonstrates that he doesn’t understand what a councillor is there for.

There was no meeting between Eskom and residents. The last meeting with Eskom was before the last local government elections.

There was no accountability and transparency because there was an email that was apparently sent to the Councillor about Eskom’s intentions which he denies ever receiving.

Eskom may have acted lawfully but not reasonably and procedurally fair as I have already pointed out that only a few houses were targeted and there are areas in Kagiso known as Batswaneng and Zulu Jump where Eskom personnel do not tread including the hostels. This cannot be reasonable and procedurally fair.

There is an arbitrary penalty of a R6000 fine imposed by Eskom and payable in full before electricity can be restored irrespective of whether or not a person is a pensioner or indigent.

Eskom must inspect all the houses.

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