13 February 2013

South Africa: Earthlife, Groundwork, and Greenpeace Quit Stakeholder Forum Over Eskom Espionage

press release

Earthlife, groundWork, and Greenpeace have suspended their participation in Eskom's NGO forum following reports that Eskom contracted Swartberg Intelligence Support Services to spy on the organizations. The organizations have received documents exposing correspondence between Eskom and 'Swartberg Intelligence Services'.

"Eskom's shocking move highlights the deep rot within the organisation that takes us back to the dark days of apartheid. If we cannot trust Eskom's leadership to deal openly with those that are pushing it towards sustainable practices, how can we trust them with such an important asset as our energy provision. We demand a change of Eskom's leadership," said groundWork's Director Bobby Peek.

According to Michael O'Brien Onyeka, Greenpeace Africa's Executive Director: "Eskom has demonstrated that it is a completely unscrupulous organization both in terms of its energy choices and ethical standards. Spying on civil society cuts against the essence of South Africa's democratic principles, is a violation of basic human rights and a move to silence civil society. Greenpeace demands an urgent independent investigation into the matter. We clearly cannot trust Eskom to police itself!"

"Eskom has no right to spy upon citizens of this country, and such activities belong in our past with the dread of the Bureau of State Security and the National Intelligence Service. A significant part of our liberation was the abolition of such heinous acts and entities, and Eskom owes this country an apology for its disgraceful behaviour. While Earthlife Africa Johannesburg disagrees with Eskom's dirty generation choices and anti-poor tariff increases, we are entitled to such democratic, legitimate dissent. There is a little thing called the Constitution, we suggest Eskom read it," stated Tristen Taylor, Project Coordinator of Earthlife Africa Jhb.

The civil society groups demand an independent investigation to block what is a classic case of oppression of civil society by big business. Until such outcome of the investigation is made public, the organizations will temporarily withdraw from Eskom's Stakeholder forum and await.

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