Democracy In Action (DIA) took to the street this week calling for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to fix the dire situation occurring at power utility Eskom.
The civil society organisation handed over a memorandum to the government along with a petition that was generated online in an effort to stop load shedding and Eskom Chief Executive Officer André de Ruyter’s removal from office.
Thabo Mtsweni the chairperson of the civil society organisation said that it was surprising that everyone including media and other NGO’s are not asking the government to be accountable with Eskom.
“The country isn't putting to much pressure on what is happening at Eskom, this is the same thing that happened in 2016 where pressure came from everywhere and it seemed as though everyone understood that at Eskom the problem wasn't coal supply,” he said
He said that the problems were that there are breakdowns and this is due to people who are not qualified and do not have enough experience in energy generation.
“Those people are the people that must be removed from Eskom. Starting with the Minister (Pravin Gordhan) who does not have proper political will to deal with any issue that deal with SOE’s” said Mtsweni.
The only thing that he wants to do according to Mtsweni is privatise as he has already sold SAA and now the target Transnet and Eskom.
He said that there was a need for a Minister who has the will to make the SOE’s work.
“We need a board at Eskom that has experience and that has expertise to deal with issues of electricity generation, the CEO of Eskom currently doesn't have any experience in energy generation or does not have any qualification in energy generation,” he said.
He said De Ruyter must be removed together with the COO Jan Oberholzer and replace them with competent people.
“We must also stop the government from privatising Eskom, which will mean the citizens are going to pay and exorbitant amount of money for electricity. We come from the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy is not doing well. There is unemployment , there aren't any job opportunities , so wee must make sure that Eskom is not privatised,” he said
African People’s Convention (APC) leader, Themba Godi says the march was important as it would bring to the public domain the erratic supply of electricity by Eskom.
Godi said that it would also bring to the fore the high cost of electricity, the mismanagement and corruption at Eskom as well as the privatisation of the entity by the current government.
“To say no! this is a national asset it is a public utility that must remain in public hands and provide services to the people instead of it being a private concern,” he said
Godi also said that there was a progressive mis-mangament and running down of Eskom , the closing down of coal fired power stations was an attempt to render Eskom incapable of fulfilling its core function of providing cheap and reliable electricity to the country.
“So that it can then justify its privatisation it is an old trick that is used all over the world that when public utilities are to be privatised they are di-funded they are mismanaged they are run down and then sold top the lowest bidder as a way of capturing a captive market because everybody uses electricity in the country,” he said
Godi said that Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan was an arrogant person who usually does what he pleases and rides rough shoulder over the ANC and cabinet.
“He is quiet and not responding to the cries of the public and continuing with the privatisation program,” said Godi.
He said this can be exemplified by the legal sale of shares of SAA, this is what will happen to Eskom and is currently happening to Transnet.
“The country should be worried that this administration of President Cyril Ramaphosa seems to have one mandate which is to denude the state of any SOE along with ensuring there isn't any socio-economic transformation and the status quo is maintained,” added Godi
He said that as the APC they see Ramaphosa’s reign as advancing minority rule and foreign interests, calling it a Neo-Colonial set up.
“I do believe that in the next five years if Ramaphosa is back to power this country will have been sold it would be a proper Neo-Colony,” he said