Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s spokesperson, Adrian Lackay, was reacting to a Sunday newspaper report which stated that the law enforcement agencies’ primary duty was to “detect any malicious attacks” on Eskom, possibly by trade unions.
“As far as the Department of Public Enterprises is aware, no requests have been made to the police or military to protect power stations, as no industrial actions have been instituted, nor have public protests been called for at this stage,” he said.
According to Lackay, the only reference to the ministries of police and state security was their inclusion on the Inter-Ministerial Task Team on Eskom announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his reply to opposition parties debating his State of the Nation address.
“In my reading, the Sunday Times uses this as a basis for its story,” he said.
A leading expert in the energy sector, Ted Blom, has also cast doubt on labour unions violently attacking Eskom facilities in their bid to stop its unbundling. He said the report could have been prompted by growing concerns about the reactions of unions to the announcement.
He said government action, if any, could have been influenced by what some people were posting on the “black Twitter group”, where they were “openly talking about their plans to stop the unbundling of Eskom”.
“The government is worried. The situation is volatile. It is good they doubled up security,” Blom said.
But he said labour unions were unlikely to engage in sabotage.
“Whether they would sabotage Eskom, I don’t think they would,” Blom said.
National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa general secretary Irvin Jim has denied that his union planned to sabotage Eskom.
Cosatu last week marched against job losses, including the planned unbundling of Eskom.
Cosatu plans another march to Parliament on Wednesday before Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tables his budget speech.
National police spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo could not confirm reports that officers would be deployed to protect Eskom against acts of sabotage.
Naidoo said he would comment officially on Monday after receiving a full briefing from police management.
State Security Agency spokesperson Lebohang Mafokosi was not available for comment.