Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of the unbundling of Eskom has triggered unhappiness within the Tripartite Alliance, with Cosatu on Wednesday holding a nationwide march against the move.
Announcing their support for the march, the ANC indicated that Luthuli House would oppose calls for the unbundling of Eskom if they included the possible privatisation of the power utility.
Ramaphosa announced during his State of the Nation Address last week that Eskom would be split into three entities.
Other issues expected to feature on Cosatu’s memorandum include the outsourcing of government services, labour brokers, corruption and mismanagement and the closure of mines.
During a press briefing in Durban on Tuesday, the issue of unbundling Eskom was given prominence. Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi is expected to lead the march in Durban.
Cosatu provincial secretary Edwin Mkhize said they expected Premier Willies Mchunu to accept the memorandum at City Hall.
“Cyril is just a president just like any previous president of the ANC, and if we are not happy with what he does we are going to challenge him and we are going to challenge the ANC,” he said.
“The fact that Cosatu advocated for Ramaphosa to become the president does not mean we will always be happy with everything that he does, and if we disagree with him, we will march to show our anger,” Mkhize said on Tuesday.
He added that the unbundling of Eskom was aimed at privatising the entity, which his federation was against.
He said the current load shedding, which put thousands of jobs at risk, was caused by ineffective officials at the entity.
“The deadwoods who are rendering Eskom ineffective must go. The president, when addressing challenges at Eskom, was not clear about what is going to happen to officials who lack efficiency and effectiveness,” he said.
He added that the march would also affect schools as teachers who were members of the South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) were expected to participate.
“Teachers are also workers who are affected by low wages and poor working conditions. They will make up the lost time in classrooms by working extra hours and weekends to catch up,” he said.
Sadtu provincial secretary Nomarashiya Caluza said she expected all members of her union to participate.
Professor Bonke Dumisa, an economist, said the strike would pass with minimum impact on the economy.
“I can assure you that there will be no economic impact as 90% of South Africans who are supposed to be at work, will be at work.
“If the taxis do not participate, they will make more money by transporting those going to the march.
“This march will achieve nothing, it is about grandstanding and is an effort by Cosatu to reassert itself and show it is still relevant.”
Musa Makhunga, the president of the Durban Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the chamber had been notified of the strike action by Cosatu and had, in turn, notified its members.
“The South African economy is vulnerable at this point, so depending on the duration of, number of workers involved in, and businesses affected by the strike, it could have significant direct and indirect impacts on the economy due to a further loss of productivity, as load shedding is also a contributing factor.”
He said the uncertainty could be detrimental to the country’s reputation in the eyes of both foreign and local investors.
ANC acting spokesperson Dakota Legoete said the ANC supported Cosatu’s march because it was against the privatisation of Eskom.
“Eskom is about to be unbundled and there is a possibility of job losses because of this.
“If the unions are uncomfortable with what government is about to do, the ANC will respect the right of Cosatu and its affiliates,” he said.
He added that the ANC was also worried.
“The purpose and intention of the unbundling has not been explained to the nation,” said Legoete.