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Union calls for resignation of Eskom executives and board as load-shedding deepens

'All we need is leadership who will keep the lights burning,' says NUM acting general secretary William Mabapa. File photo.
'All we need is leadership who will keep the lights burning,' says NUM acting general secretary William Mabapa. File photo.

The strategy to fix SA’s long-lasting electricity supply problems is not working and heads must roll, says the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

On Tuesday the NUM said the Eskom board and executives should resign.

“They promised they will resolve the problem of load-shedding in 18 months. They dismally failed to meet their set target. All we need is leadership who will keep the lights burning,” said William Mabapa, the union’s acting general secretary.

“The Eskom leadership presented a turnaround strategy that is not tailored to solve the load-shedding problems we are experiencing.”

Mabapa said the current Eskom strategy focused on unbundling the utility and disposing of some of its assets.

“Unbundling is presented as a panacea for all Eskom problems. The NUM is on record as opposed to this way of thinking.”

Trade union Solidarity is also speaking out against Eskom management, telling Moneyweb staff are being blamed for load-shedding but they lack basic equipment to do their jobs.

“There are no spares because there is no money. Staff are trying to improvise and get permission for makeshift plans, but when the pawpaw hits the fan, management turns on them and blames them,” said Tommy Wedderspoon, coordinator for the electrical sector at Solidarity.

Moneyweb quoted Solidarity as saying unions are heading to the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) where a dispute about Eskom’s “unilateral implementation of salary increases and reduction in benefits” will be heard in December.

NUM charged that Eskom’s executives “do not respect the agreements with trade unions. They have unilaterally changed workers’ conditions of employment.

“The executive leadership of Andre de Rutyer and the board must do SA a favour and resign from their positions or the government must intervene and discharge them,” said Mabapa.

“We call on the government to set up a team of competent South Africans to run Eskom while waiting for the appointment of a new board and executives.”

The cabinet last week acknowledged “the disruptions and inconvenience of intermittent load-shedding experienced by South Africans in recent days” and said action was being taken to deal with it.

“National Treasury is working with Eskom to grant it the appropriate exemptions to acquire the spare parts needed for repairs and maintenance. Eskom is making progress in re-employing skilled personnel, including plant managers, to help the power utility make headway at individual power stations and across operations of the business.

“Over the medium term, government is implementing interventions to resolve our energy challenges, and we are making every effort to bring new power generation capacity online in the shortest possible time.”

The interventions include:

  • lifting the threshold for companies to produce their own electricity without a licence to 100 megawatts (MW);
  • the announcement of 11 successful bidders for the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme; and
  • Bid Window Five of the renewable energy programme to procure 2,600MW of new generation capacity from wind and solar photovoltaic projects.

“While cabinet is aware the energy challenges are frustrating and counterproductive to economic growth, it is confident the practical actions government is taking to restructure and strengthen our electricity system will eventually improve the country’s energy capacity.”


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