/ 23 April 2015

Numsa to Eskom: Open your books to scrutiny

Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim
Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa [Numsa] believe the crisis at Eskom was partly as a result of power struggles “among predatory elites” who wanted to control multimillion-rand contracts to allocate them to themselves and their friends.

It has called for a credible and rapid inquiry into Eskom, which will include all major constituencies.

“We demand to know about the composition of the so called war room. We demand full disclosure of the interests of everybody in the war room. We need to know whose interests they are serving,” Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim told journalists in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The war room was set up by Cabinet in December to implement the five-point plan to deal with the electricity crisis in the country. The five point plan covers

  • Harnessing the co-generation opportunity through the extension of existing contracts with the private sector;
  • Accelerating the programme for substitution of diesel with gas to fire up the diesel power plants;
  • Launching a coal independent power producer programme; and
  • Managing demand through specific interventions within residential dwellings, public and commercial buildings and municipalities through retrofitting energy efficient technologies.

Numsa has demanded that Eskom open its books for public scrutiny.

“We must to see the details of Eskom’s contracts for fuel, of the accounts for projects such as Medupi, the bonuses paid to Eskom directors and senior managers. The books must be opened down to the last detail so that we can see for ourselves what has been happening at Eskom.”

The union also said it rejected the proposed tariff increase on electricity.

“As the single most important provider of electricity to the economy, Eskom must service the rest of the economy. It is only blind, dogmatic adherence to neoliberal principles that obliges Eskom to operate as a commercial entity. Eskom must be properly supported by the state to produce the electricity required for the economy to grow, at the price that encourages industry to grow. It must stop chasing the balance sheet and start chasing industrial development,” said Jim.

The union said it did not endorse the appointment of Brian Molefe as acting Eskom chief executive.

“Numsa’s experience with Brian Molefe is a terrible one. We know him as a union basher at Transnet. Under his leadership, we witnessed a R50-billion tender being allocated to two Chinese companies — China North Rail and China South — instead of giving work to a South African company, CTLE that has capacity to manufacture locomotives and trains. Such a decision led to [about] 200 jobs being lost at CTLE. So Numsa has no confidence in Brian Molefe.”

It also wants new Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane to step down with immediate effect.

“During his [Ngubane] tenure as SABC board chairperson, the [public broadcaster] was looted of millions of rand. What is this patronage that allows such a discredited man to be put in such a leadership position in such a vital organisation when it is in crisis?”

Jim said Numsa would continue to demand the facts from the board of Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Lynn Brown about the suspension of the four Eskom senior executives, including CEO Tshediso Matona.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe was not available for comment.