Pretoria - The South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu) has condemned the escalation of load shedding to Stage four announced by Eskom to run until Frida, and called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to “immediately” fire the CEO of Eskom Andre de Ruyter, his board, and as well as Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan.
“There has to be consequence management. In his attempt to scapegoat his inability to curb load shedding, de Ruyter has blamed the former CEO Matshela Koko for lack of maintenance and that plants were being run harder. Perhaps a year ago, this reasoning could suffice. But it is unacceptable that two years after he was appointed Eskom CEO, he is blaming the preceding CEO for lack of maintenance and load shedding,” said Saftu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi.
“He (de Ruyter) is simply excusing his incapability to lead Eskom out of the load shedding trajectory. Eskom’s load shedding, and tariff hikes, are destroying every little chance of rapid economic recovery from the devastating impact of successive Covid-19 lockdowns.”
Vavi said the economic consequences of load shedding include job losses and loss of billions worth of gross domestic products (GDP) annually.
“Before the local government elections, the implementation of load shedding coincided with the commencement of the matric examination. The escalation of the load shedding after local government elections means that matric learners and tertiary students are going to study under extremely difficult conditions,” said Vavi.
“However, it seems the ANC – the engineer of this crisis – is indifferent to the plight of those affected by load shedding. Some of its leaders underscore the social and economic impact of load shedding for narrow political interests.”
Beyond the common impacts of load shedding, Saftu believes the power cuts are part of a ploy to justify the outsourcing, commercialisation and privatisation of Eskom and energy production in South Africa.
“Saftu condemns the ANC elite for only caring about load shedding when it affects their election campaigns. Indeed, we agree that Minister Gordhan is engaged in an act of sabotage. But such an act of sabotage is not sabotaging the ANC election campaign,” said Vavi.
“Together with his party, the ANC, and like his predecessors in government, they are sabotaging Eskom and the public who rely on it for energy. Load shedding at this stage is gambling not only with GDP and employment, but it is also gambling with the future of young people who are writing their matric examination.”
Saftu has demanded that Eskom management end load shedding “so that our kids, the future of this country, can prepare adequately for their important examinations”.
On Monday, Eskom announced the implementation of Stage 4 load shedding from 1pm on Monday until 5am on Friday, and thereafter, Stage 2 load shedding would kick in until Saturday.
“Eskom regrets to inform the public that due to the ongoing generation capacity shortages, stage four load shedding will be implemented from 1pm until 5am on Friday. Thereafter, stage 2 load shedding will continue as previously communicated until 5am on Saturday,” the embattled power utility said in a statement.