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Numsa Press statement on the Crisis at Eskom 25 March 2014

25 March 2015, Posted in Press Releases

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is alarmed and dismayed by the recent developments at Eskom where the new CEO of Eskom has been suspended with three of his senior executives.

The recklessness and unceremonious suspensions of the four executives at Eskom have simply added more fuel to the already existing public perception that Eskom is riddled with deep seated systemic, structural, organisational, administrative and financial crises.

The more we reflect on the new developments at Eskom the more convinced we become that the decision to suspend the four senior executives was reckless, without due regard to the damage to the public image of Eskom the decision would cause, and more dangerously, the suspensions are completely oblivious to the centrality of Eskom to the economy and society of South Africa.

We have scoured our brains and have found no valid organisational or administrative reasons why Chair of the Eskom Board Zola Tsotsi and his colleagues should have suspended the four executives.

In class terms, we are convinced that the answer for the reckless decision to suspend the four lies somewhere in the labyrinth of factional class interests that are ruthlessly competing to secure, for themselves, the control of South African energy sector, post 1994.

We find it extremely disturbing and thoroughly mind-blowing that the Minister of Public Enterprises – Lynne Brown – under whom Eskom falls must claim ignorance of the true causes of the crisis at Eskom, and that she should support the suspensions of the four executives at Eskom.

Mr Zola Tsotsi, Chairperson of the Eskom Board surely must know that he cannot act as investigator, jury and judge in his own cause? As Chair of the Eskom Board for more than four years now, Tsotsi must know as he should, all about the administrative, financial, commercial and technical causes of the crises at Eskom. If he has not discovered this in the past four years, how much longer does he want to understand the causes of the crippling crises at Eskom?

Now Eskom credit rating has been reduced to junk status, thanks be to Zola Tsotsi and his board, in large part. At Numsa, we remain convinced that all this plays perfectly into the hands of powerful economic and financial factions both in the government and in the private sector who have never stopped fighting to wrestle energy control from the state by privatising Eskom and the entire South African energy regime.

We view the machinations that tend to confirm that Eskom is badly managed by the state, and the current reckless decisions to ensure that the credit ratings downgrade Eskom’s credit ratings all ploys to fast track the privatisation of Eskom. We reject with full class contempt all these crass private capitalist materialistic machinations.

We demand an end to all load shedding immediately. We demand the cessation of all manoeuvres to privatise Eskom. We demand sanity at Eskom.

We demand the withdrawal of the new electricity tariffs which will simply destroy jobs, increase miseries in working class households and reduce access to electricity for working class households. The crises at Eskom must never be transferred to the working class!

In the long term, we know that only the complete destruction of the white racist dominated capitalist economic system and society and its replacement by an economy and society properly constructed to service all South Africans equally can resolve the systemic and structural causes of the crisis at Eskom. Eskom in its current shape and form remains an apartheid relic.

Numsa holds the view that a full, independent and genuine investigation of Eskom and the entire South African energy and industrial regimes, with a view to replacing this regime with a socialist and democratic energy regime, are essential and necessary if South Africa must have an energy regime capable of servicing its needs, post 1994.

Such an investigation will need the full support and participation of the working class and a broad range of representatives of South African economy and society. It cannot be created by those who are in fact at the heart of the current crisis!

In all past restructuring efforts of Eskom including after  1994, workers employed at this state entity have never been properly and fully consulted on the best policies to reconstruct and rebuild the country’s generator and distributor of energy.

Meanwhile, we all know that it is these workers who work the system every day and who know the inner workings of Eskom, and therefore can offer valuable input and ideas on. We demand that workers of Eskom be fully involved in all the investigations and work to turn around the power utility.

Eskom needs transparent, accountable, and democratically constituted management. Eskom needs the necessary state resources to expand its infrastructure and meet the real needs of all the people of South Africa in general and the working class in particular. This cannot, and will never happen under the current neoliberal capitalist policies of the ANC government.

Should load shedding not stop, we reserve the right to call for a national strike.

We repeat our political position to the crisis at Eskom: we demand the full implementation of the Freedom Charter which demands that coal must be nationalised. Coal mines must be nationalised especially as they are a major source of high costs for Eskom. Eskom must remain a public entity. We reject and will fight any measures to privatise Eskom.

Massaging apartheid structures and systems will simply not do! It is time for the working class to organise for a socialist South Africa!

Irvin Jim
Numsa General Secretary
25 March 2015

Enquiries:
Castro Ngobese
National Spokesperson, 083 627 5197