Picture: Neil Hall/ Reuters/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - The City of Tshwane and AfriForum have decided to smoke a peace pipe over their differences over the controversial 13 percent electricity increases effected on July 1 for the 2019/20 financial year.

The parties have agreed during their meeting at Tshwane House on Tuesday that tariff increases will temporarily be set aside until the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) makes a final determination.

The energy regulator hosted a public hearing last week regarding the City's tariff hikes of 13 percent and its new proposed electricity structure. It is expected to make a ruling on the matter within a month.

Both Tshwane and AfriForum have been at loggerheads with each other in the wake of the City's announcement to forge ahead with the electricity hikes despite Nersa's approval.

AfriForum had approached the court in a bid to reverse the City's decision to increase electricity. 

In court, both parties proposed to engage in talks with each other and suspend the legal route to solve their impasse.

They met on Tuesday to honour the court agreement. Following the meeting, they expressed a great satisfaction with how it unfolded, saying it bode well for the future.

MMC for Utility Services Abel Tau said the meeting was cordial and it went exceptionally well. 

He said parties had constructive conversation, resulting in them taking a stance to reverse tariff increases effected on July 1.

"We will continue with tariff hikes for 2018/19 until we hear the final determination from Nersa," he said.

Tau said the next step would be to focus on contributing to the process already undertaken by Nersa to make sure the matter was resolved amicably and as speedily as possible.

"Going forward we don't anticipate going to court for any other reason because there is a open channel of communication. There is really commitment from both of us to work together for the benefit of the community," he said.

AfriForum's Jaco Grobbelaar shared Tau's positive sentiment, saying that the lobby group had a very good meeting with the City to discuss their differences on electricity tariffs. 

"We had several points that we agreed on. It was a very good meeting and from now on AfriForum and Tshwane will work together on everything. 

"We will better the communication and we will work well together in future," he said.

Pretoria News