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20 Years of Freedom and Democracy
Access to electricity by the poor was once a luxury
​EThekwini Municipality is head and shoulders above all
metros with 99 percent of its residents having access to

Electricity is one of most important inventions ever made by mankind. EThekwini Municipality prides itself for a giant leap forward it has made to ensure that thousands that were neglected by the apartheid regime in the past, have got access to this indispensable basic service.

AT THE dawn of the new dispensation, it is not a secret that electricity was largely associated with the minority that was in charge of the City. This meant when this administration took over the reins of power, it was tantamount to starting from nothing in its bid to ensure that all residents have got equitable access to electricity and the other basic services. Looking back, it is amazing to see the tremendous strides that have been made to stop making electricity a luxury but a basic inalienable human right.

How can we forget that, during the apartheid era, the black majority had to contend with paraffin stoves that emits noxious fumes that resulted in the drop of life expectancy of black people in comparison with other races? Others had to endure walking long distances to harvest fuel wood. The few that could afford, their source of power were gas cylinders that travelled long distances to replenish. As a result, the majority of black people could not own a fridge. This was inhumane and it ruined the dignity of a black man hence it was significant for black people to swell the ranks of antiapartheid movements to usher in justice for all.

They also could not own television sets because for one to own it needed to buy a generator for it to beam images on the screen. Hence cognitively black children were no match to children of minorities for they were permanently exposed to media and it aided them learned a lot giving them an unfair advantage. This is not a fairy-tale but a struggle of a black man during the apartheid era that will remain indelible in the minds of those who experienced it.

It is this gross violation of human rights that spurred this Municipality into swift action to obliterate the imbalances created deliberately for black people to be only drawers of water and hewers of wood for the master. Access to basic services such as electricity was elevated high on its agenda. It is why today this Municipality is head and shoulders above all metros with 99 percent of its residents that have access to electricity.

The manner with which this basic service has been made to be accessible with, has resulted to all residents to take it for granted. Bearing testimony to this is the reality that in the event of a power outage, life of our residents come to a standstill because they are used to electricity and they cannot imagine their lives without having access to it. No one ever thought even the deepest rural areas will be electrified? Who had it in their frames of reference that even in informal settlement the poor will one day have access to electricity? Without any fear of contradiction, against all odds stacked against it, this Municipality has indeed made history. The dignity of all residents whether rural or urban have indeed been restored by its efforts of ensuring that black majority also have access to these much need services unwaveringly.

Electricity does not only bring light but it also unlocks economic opportunities. With the stagnation of the country’s economy which has increased the number of jobless people, small businesses have mushroomed. Most of them are largely depended on electricity to trade and they are creating employment. We are also grateful that schools in former disadvantaged communities are now electrified. Based on these achievements it is worthy to celebrate our freedom. Had it not been for our joint efforts to topple the apartheid regime, we would still be treated as second class citizens in our own land.

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