Numsa will resist all attempts to unbundle and privatise our SOE’s and Eskom in particular, writes Irvin Jim. photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi 5
JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) will resist all attempts to unbundle and privatise our SOE’s and Eskom in particular.

Furthermore, we condemn remarks made by Minister of State Owned Enterprises Pravin Gordhan that Eskom is to be unbundled and broken up. According to media reports Gordhan confirmed that the task team which was set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa to look into the affairs of Eskom, recommended that Eskom should be broken apart. 

Fin24.com reported that Gordhan made the following remarks at a business economic discussion with Business Unity South Africa in Midrand on Tuesday: 

"Should Eskom be unbundled …it’s going to be a debate we have soon and it’s going to be beyond a debate as we need very fast movement if we’re going to have Eskom as a credible entity, both operationally and financially, even in a month’s time, but you’ll hear about this in due course,".

We also condemn the minister for his arrogance. He chooses to engage with the media on Eskom’s future but he has failed to engage labour on the future of Eskom. We are the most important stakeholder at Eskom because we represent workers and nothing has been communicated to us on the future of the SOE. Our members read these reports and they are understandably alarmed because there has been no consultation with labour on Eskom’s future. They have every reason to be worried because Eskom recently embarked on retrenchments of senior managers in December, without informing or consulting unions. 

We also reject the minister’s attempts to distance himself and the ANC, from the financial crisis at Eskom. 

He and other leaders in the ANC conveniently hide behind ‘State Capture’ to cover up for all the problems of Eskom, and they have the audacity to blame former President Zuma and his administration for Eskom’s problems. We do not support Zuma. He is corrupt and his removal was way overdue. NUMSA was the first to take a principled stance to reject him and the corrupt ANC which he led. Our position was that we cannot support the ANC government when, for the last two decades of its rule, it has done everything in its power to promote anti-black, and anti-Working class Capitalist policies which have worsened conditions for the majority of people. We were punished by the ANC and its alliance partners, who colluded to have us kicked out of COSATU, a federation which we built. Zuma did not act alone. He acted with the blessing of the ANC and the alliance. Minister Gordhan served as part of Zuma’s cabinet for the two terms that he served as president when SOE’s were being looted. Even today, Gordhan remains a loyal cadre of the corrupt ANC which today is destroying Eskom and now he wants to try and distance himself, and the party from the mess they created. The state of Eskom and all other SOE’s is part of  ANC’s legacy and its entire leadership must own it. 

The ANC and its cronies looted and destroyed Eskom and now they have identified privatization as a convenient way to cover up for their mismanagement and corruption. The ANC is punishing workers for its failures. The unbundling of Eskom will result in massive retrenchments and job losses. For the consumer, it will mean that electricity will cost more, and it will be even more inaccessible to the poor and the working class.

IPP's must be scrapped if Eskom is to be saved

The government has chosen the Renewable Energy program the Independent Power Producer Project(IPP), over the welfare of the country. One hundred thousand jobs will be lost in Mpumalanga because of the closure of coal fired power stations, to make way for IPP’s. There is no Social Plan to upskill workers and absorb them into the IPP sector, after the power stations close. This will deepen unemployment in a country where unemployment is at 37 per cent and growing. 

This scheme makes no financial sense because it forces Eskom to pay more for electricity from IPP’s which it can produce far more cheaply through coal. It then sells it to the market at 86 cents because of the tariff regulations. It is no wonder that Eskom is broke! This kind of daylight robbery is allowed because members of the ANC elite, like billionaire Patrice Motsepe, who is related to both the president and energy minister, are direct beneficiaries of the IPP project. The ANC government is shamelessly serving its own narrow interests at our expense.

The privatization of Eskom is our greatest enemy. The working class will have to unite to defend it and all other SOE’s. We survived the wage talks by uniting and working together towards a common vision. We shall have to do the same now as the state prepares to wage war against us through privatization. We will mobilize workers, communities and all progressive formations to join us to embark on rolling mass action and strikes to protect jobs and save Eskom. 

Irvin Jim is the Numsa General Secretary. 

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE