Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim says that Numsa will fight the privatisation of Eskom. File photo: ANA/Siphelele Dludla

Durban - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Wednesday that Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, Public Works Minister Pravin Gordhan and the new Eskom board were all "anti-Eskom" for deciding to retrench workers at the state-owned entity (SOE). 

In an emotive and lengthy statement issued on Wednesday night, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said the union condemned "Eskom, the board as well as the ANC government for retrenching workers at Eskom!"

"Retrenchments are just the beginning. We know that the ultimate goal is to break Eskom into parts and privatise it and other SOEs. This was confirmed by the deputy minister of energy in an interview with BBC’s Hard Talk in October last year. 

"Thembisile Majola told the host of the show that privatisation of Eskom was on the table and that it must be ‘unbundled’ and broken into parts," Jim said. 

"This premeditated agenda was initiated by Minister Jeff Radebe who worked hand in glove with the current board, as well as the new Eskom management led by the GCEO, Phakamani Hadebe."
 
He said the union's experience with the new board and management of Eskom had left it "consistently shocked and dismayed [by] their leadership style".

"Together with Jeff Radebe and Pravin Gordon, the board and the shareholder are anti-Eskom. This has been demonstrated by their reckless pursuit of government's disastrous renewable energy programme (IPP). 

"Eskom’s own studies showed that if Eskom continues with the project it would lead to the closure of five power stations, threatening the job security of at least 92 000 workers and their families."

Jim said the IPP agreements were signed without a social plan in place for the province of Mpumalanga, whose economy was almost entirely dependent on the presence of the coal-fired power stations. 

"We have lost billions in revenue which we can never recover [due to loadshedding]. In 2008 Eskom was mired in a scandal when it emerged that one of its executives personally benefitted from these blackouts through the increased cost of coal."

The load-shedding experienced at the end of 2018 was "unnecessary and a ruse to prepare the country for the privatization of Eskom," Jim said. The SOE's leadership was "determined to collapse Eskom in favour of the IPPs".

Numsa told Eskom leaders that looting was destroying the company. "This looting is centred on coal procurement from white monopoly capital who run and manage all of Eskom’s cost plus mines. "These mines have been paid for by the national fiscus." 

Despite this, the mines were not owned by citizens, but by "white-owned companies" that exorbitantly increased the cost of coal, which Eskom executives enabled. 

Jim said that turning Eskom required the dismissal of all corrupt " ringleaders" recovering misspent money and abandoning the IPP project. 

Boards of Eskom and all the SOEs should be scrapped and replaced with representatives from community organisations, unions, business and the state. He also said that any plans to privatise Eskom should also be dismissed and retrenchments should be halted.  

"If needs be, we [will] be planning a national strike in defence of our members’ jobs and the future of South African economy," said Jim. 

African News Agency (ANA)