The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in the Western Cape notes the appointment of the Eskom Sustainability Task Team by President Cyril Ramaphosa to mainly advise him on how to bring back Eskom to the right path.
The task team is further mandated to engage and consult various stakeholders in the process of coming up with the recommendations to resolve Eskom challenges. All South Africans are concerned about the ongoing challenges at Eskom and we are therefore hopeful that the consultation will be as wide and representative as possible so that there is collective ownership of the solutions going forward.
Looking at the composition of the task team, the NUM is doubtful if the President will get objective recommendations that will serve the interests of Eskom and the country. There are members in the task team who are conflicted and who can't be objective and independent as some of them have one way or the other businesses with Eskom.
The inclusion of Brian Dames who is the former CEO of the same utility is disappointing understanding that he was part of previous leadership that contributed to plummeting Eskom in some of the challenges its facing today. The inclusion of Brian further confirms our observation that the current CEO is of no use anymore at Eskom after the hasty signing of PPAs immediately after his appointment. The appointment of a COO was the beginning of his end and now Brian's appointment to come up with solutions telling the current CEO what he should be doing is the last straw. Our advice to the current CEO is that he should peacefully resign and save what is left of him as a business leader. Moreover, Brian is involved in the IPPs currently having power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Eskom; he is therefore highly and badly conflicted.
Furthermore, our observation is that both the Ministry and Presidency have long lost confidence in the current board and executives in resolving the challenges that Eskom is confronted with. If the President cannot get the solutions from the Minister and the board and has to rely on a task team assembled to deliver solutions within a month, the board might as well be dissolved because it has been rendered useless and hopeless by the events that we have observed unfolding. The dissolution must run in parallel with the task team work so that a new and capable team be appointed to implement the recommendations.
We are mindful of the ongoing attempts to privatize Eskom and retrench the workers while there is absolute silence about the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) that Minister Jeff Radebe forced Eskom to sign with the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) which are crippling Eskom's ability to regain its financial strength on daily basis.
We wish to sponsor a recommendation for free to the task team before it starts with its work with no fear of contradiction, and the recommendation is that scrap the current PPAs with IPPs and that Minister Jeff Radebe is not suitable for Department of Energy and his continued stay in that portfolio will only do more harm to the well-being of this country and its citizens. He should, therefore, vacate the portfolio and be redeployed elsewhere if the President still requires his services, but as the NUM we say he has done enough damage particularly to the psychological well-being of the Eskom workers who have to daily wake up with absolute uncertainty of their future as the Minister of Energy.
For more information, please contact:
Soso Fisa: NUM Western Cape Regional Secretary: 073 159 5213
The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street
Tel: 011 377 2111
Cell: 083 809 3257