DA demands action against Free State municipalities owing billions to Eskom. File Image/ANA

CAPE TOWN - The special Cabinet committee on Eskom will hold more meetings with organised labour to discuss the contentious restructuring of the struggling power utility into three units, according to a statement issued on Thursday.

"The meeting with labour reported on the problems with Eskom’s operations and generation system, maintenance and unplanned outages," Cabinet said in a statement on its meeting on Wednesday where Deputy President David Mabuza reported on the committee's engagements. 

"The meeting sought to establish a basis for formal future consultations. The restructuring of Eskom was also discussed, and all parties agreed that there would be more interactions to better understand the roadmap and the implications of separating Eskom’s business divisions into three separate operating entities."

The plan to split up Eskom was announced in President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation address and saw the National Union of Mineworkers threaten to withhold its support for the ruling party in the May elections.

Unions say the restructuring will result in job losses. It is meant to create separate generation, transmission and distribution unions, which will all still form under Eskom Holdings.

Cabinet  said Mabuza, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza met with the "leadership of three unions recognised by Eskom" but did not give further details.

The recognised unions are NUM, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa) and Solidarity. Numsa has vehemently rejected Ramaphosa's plan as a first step towards privatisation.

Cabinet added that the special committee held talks with the coal sector under the auspices of the Minerals Council of South Africa (MINCOSA) and with the engineering fraternity, represented by the Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA). 

"ECSA gave its analysis of the problems facing Eskom and provided a set of recommendations about how to involve the broader South African academic and technical professional fraternity in the urgent interventions required to stabilise electricity supply."

Cabinet said MINCOSA and the ECSA would help government to establish a technical operations and maintenance review team for Eskom that will be announced shortly.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni last week announced additional support of R23 billion a year for Eskom to help it service its debt.

- African News Agency (ANA)