Energy Minister Jeff Radebe on Wednesday signed the hotly-contested renewable energy agreements with 27 independent power producers on behalf of state-owed power utility Eskom. Picture: Matthews Baloyi/ANA PHOTO

Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Wednesday that the signing of the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) by the Department of Energy was an insult to the working class and the poor, and threatened to withdraw its support for South Africa's ruling party.

"We are highly angered that the ANC-led (African National Congress-led) government has signed the outstanding 27 IPPs contracts. The clean energy project is hijacked by the capitalist for their narrow capitalist interests," said Paris Mashego, NUM energy sector coordinator.

"The ANC-led government is privatising Eskom through the back door to satisfy their Davos handlers and white monopoly capital."

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

Radebe said the 27 projects, located in mainly rural parts of South Africa, represented a total of R56 billion of investment and about 2 300MW of generation capacity to be added to the grid over the next five years.

"This investment of R56 billion injected by the private into the economy, with no contribution from government other than support to Eskom in the event of a default by the buyer. This will have a positive impact on the economy and competition in the energy sector will certainly benefit the consumer," Radebe said.

But Mashego said that the NUM was not going to continue supporting the ANC-led government because it was "destroying jobs". 

"Workers of this country will not continue to vote and support an organization which is taking away jobs from the poor. We cannot perpetually campaign and vote for the so-called "New Dawn" as narrated by [President] Cyril Ramaphosa," Mashego said.

"Over 40 000 jobs will be lost in mining, energy and the entire value chain, rendering Witbank and the surrounding areas into ghost towns. "

Mashego said the NUM was demanding that Ramaphosa must stop and reverse the decision on the IPPs.  

"We are tired of supporting the organization which is indicating left but turning right," he said.

African News Agency/ANA