COSATU is extremely dismayed by the latest steps in unbundling Eskom

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) is extremely dismayed by the latest steps in the unbundling of Eskom with the approval of a separate distribution company within Eskom Holdings. 

Whilst the Federation notes that this new Eskom Distribution will remain wholly state owned and within the Eskom umbrella, COSATU and its militant Affiliate, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), remain deeply opposed to the electricity utility’s unbundling.  We fear it is a precursor to the future privatisation of Eskom and that such a sale of the most critical State-Owned Enterprise (SOE) will see workers lose their jobs.  Labour is very wary that this will open the flood gates to the wholesale privatisation of SOEs and abandoning the role of the developmental state in the economy.

Eskom is battling its existential crises not because it is a single SOE but because corrupt politicians, managers and businesspeople have looted, mismanaged and under invested in it to the point of collapse.  Whether Eskom has 1 or 2 or 3 Boards is not the cause of its endemic battles with corruption, wasteful expenditure, vandalism and cable theft.  State capture, theft, criminality, corruption and reckless budget cuts are.  If we are to stabilise and rebuild Eskom into the world class SOE that drove South Africa’s industrialisation for nearly a century, then these root causes of loadshedding are what must be tackled.

Splitting Eskom into various entities and appointing additional Boards is merely moving chairs on the deck of the Titanic, when we should be plugging the leaks.  The reality is we do not have time for distractions or tinkering on the side when loadshedding and the similar challenges affecting Transnet and PRASA have reduced South Africa’s projected economic growth rate this year by more than 2%, cost up to 780 000 in new jobs and robbed the fiscus of R90 billion that it cannot spare.

Unless government and the leadership of the SOEs and law enforcement organs move with speed and decisively, our already fragile economy and 42.6% unemployment rate may get worse.  This is something that workers simply cannot afford.  Politicians would be wise to remember that voters will be going to the polls within less than 12 months.

Issued by COSATU.

For further information please contact:
Matthew Parks
Acting National Spokesperson & Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687