11 Days Remaining

Thursday 30th
posted by James Tweedie in World

SOUTH AFRICA’S National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) slammed renewable energy privatisation yesterday, saying it would cost tens of thousands of jobs.

ANC-allied federation Cosatu spoke out over staterun electricity firm Eskom’s plans to close five of its own power stations to make way for contracts with Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

President Jacob Zuma announced the fast-tracking of deals between the parastatal power company and renewable energy-producing IPPs in his state of the nation address last month.

NUM general secretary David Sipunzi said the union was unaware of the true implications at the time — that existing plants would have to close with the loss of 10,000 jobs at Eskom plus as many as 40,000 in the surrounding areas and at the coalmines that supply them.

“We are not sure whether the president of the country did take a conscious decision to throw so many people into the pool of unemployed,” he said.

“Or was the president misled on the impact of signing of agreements with IPPs?”

Mr Sipunzi said the policy would force Eskom to buy electricity from the IPPs “at a very high price and sell it at a very low price” — meaning “in the near future Eskom will be bankrupt.”

On Tuesday NUM president Piet Matosa told the union’s women’s Highveld conference in Pretoria the union would fight the IPP deals “tooth and nail.”

Tensions have flared before over the Eskom board’s claimed independence from government while implementing unpopular policies like “load-shedding” power cuts.

“It cannot be that our ANC is going to destroy jobs and sentence us to unemployment,” Mr Matosa said.

He stressed: “We are not against renewable energy, but we are saying that anyone who has energy must compete with Eskom. Eskom cannot be used to promote people who want to destroy jobs.

“We want to see the ANC in the forefront defending jobs of mine and energy workers,” he said. “Either we stand firm and fight or we accept losing these jobs.”