File image: IOL.

JOHANNESBURG - The South African Federation of Trade Unions on Friday slammed the National Union of Mineworkers, saying its condemnation of a government deal with independent power producers was an about-turn from its initial support of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

The NUM said it was angry over the deal, labeling it an attempt by the government to privatise state-owned power utility Eskom through the back door to please 'white monopoly capital' a reference to how whites are still dominant in South Africa's economy, 24 years since the end of apartheid.

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But federation Saftu said NUM leaders had changed their tune, after campaigning for Ramaphosa, a former businessman whose swearing in to replace former president Jacob Zuma in February pleased investors.

"The NUM leadership are clearly coming under pressure from their own members, who have been enraged by the IPP deal. But until yesterday, the NUM was one of Ramaphosa’s biggest supporters," Saftu said.

"They have said nothing about Ramaphosa’s role in private business, particularly as a director of Lonmin, one of their members’ biggest and worst employers, and how he became a multi-billionaire and joined the ruling class whose interests he is now promoting."

Energy Minister Radebe on Wednesday signed the hotly-contested renewable energy agreements with 27 independent power producers on behalf of Eskom. 

He said the projects, located in mainly rural parts of South Africa, represented a total of R56 billion of investment and would add about 2,300 MW of generation capacity to the grid over the next five years.

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 - ANA