OPINION

Eskom a national embarrassment – COSATU

Federation says thanks to defective leadership and dodgy deals the power utility not a national asset any longer

Eskom’s defective leadership and their dodgy deals have converted a national asset into a national embarrassment

26 June 2017

The reports that an audit report by KPMG reveals that Eskom sneaked an inflated advance payment of R600m to Chinese firm Dongfang for a controversial R4bn tender to supply a new boiler at its Duvha power station in Mpumalanga, shows that Eskom has become a national embarrassment instead of a national asset. If these reports are proven to be true , COSATU wants all board members and senior managers at Eskom to be asked to step down and then they must be investigated and prosecuted if necessary.

The federation was and continues to be one of the staunchest defenders of State Owned Entities and fought against the attempts to privatise them but the level of mismanagement, looting and wasteful expenditure in companies like Eskom is a poke in the eye for the workers. This is not just shocking but it is outrageous because this is the same company that continues to fleece consumers with unreasonable electricity tariff hikes. Just this month Eskom went to NERSA demanding hard pressed workers be robbed once again with a massive 19.9% tariff hike.

COSATU also feels that this is a betrayal of the ANC’s commitment to ensure that state-owned entities operate as powerful instruments of economic transformation and that they are used to respond effectively and efficiently to government’s developmental agenda. We have long argued that Eskom’s challenges are self inflicted ,either through inefficiency or corruption.

COSATU as an organisation that represents millions of underpaid ordinary workers, who can barely afford the increases in the prices of basic services will vehemently oppose the proposed 19.9% tariff increase that Eskom is requesting. We cannot allow workers to be squeezed and their money thrown into a money pit that is Eskom. Unless the governance crisis that is engulfing Eskom is resolved, they should not be given a cent more. They have badly let down the poor of this country, the 50kWh monthly free basic electricity that government has been providing to poor households is very important but it is still not enough to cushion the poor. Even this 50kWh is being scrapped in some municipalities.

COSATU wants to see government being more hands-on in rescuing and supervising Eskom because the current situation is totally unacceptable and unsustainable.

The federation also demands clarity on the reports that the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (Necsa) chairman Kelvin Kemm recently told a conference in Moscow that Eskom’s proposed new nuclear power stations would be a done deal by end-2017, and Russia’s Rosatom would probably get the contract.

If government is going to commit South Africa into a deal that is rumoured to have a price tag of R 3 trillion, we demand more transparency.  There are too many worrying stories surrounding the nuclear deal.  This is all happening while government is pleading poverty and freezing badly needed public service vacancies and students are crying for free education.

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson,COSATU, 26 June 2017