After a difficult legal battle, Numsa was victorious in the North Gauteng High Court, after it was granted the right to hold a night vigil on February 27 and a “picket” outside Nersa house in Pretoria on February 28.
This was the day Nersa would announce whether it would grant Eskom its requested 16% tariff increase until 2018.
The city of Tshwane had earlier refused to grant a permit for the night vigil although they had indicated that they had no difficulty with the protest on
Thursday 28 February.
Methodist Church Bishop Verryn spread the powerful word of God to comrades at the night vigil which was held at the Pretoria Methodist Church. It was attended by church members, union members from Numsa, Fawu, Cwusa, Sactwu, and Cosatu.
“An organisation which doesn’t comply or give service to its people is deemed to be immoral, so as the Church, we support Cosatu for their efforts in campaigning against Eskom’s proposal,” said Bishop Verryn.
Numsa national office bearers applauded the church for providing a place and giving support to the vigil.
“This church has a long history with our revolutionary movement”, said Numsa deputy president, Andrew Chirwa.
Speaker after speaker complained about Eskom’s request. “What Eskom is asking is out of line,” said Eugene Mthethwa from the Creative Workers Union. “Just imagine what will happen to our grannies in rural areas who survive by merely a social grant if indeed Nersa grants Eskom this tariff increase.
This increase will cripple our people and we as Cwusa are against this application at all costs,” he said.
Awake the whole night
The will and commitment to win this fight against Eskom for the poor kept us going. Some comrades were slumbering, but not all.
It was motivating and inspiring, we couldn’t even think of sleeping. Sometimes I started falling asleep but when I saw the seriousness and the energy of Numsa comrades from head office like Dinga Sikwebu, Castro Ngobese, George Choshane, Lucky Skhosana and Phutase Tseki from Numsa/Cosatu (all older than me!) I woke up and asked myself – if they can stay awake, why not me?
Midnight supper also kept the people going, no one complained of hunger.
And we were entertained. A young energetic girl sang a song by the late Mirriam Makeba. She was with her crew dancing their hearts out.
The Numsa cultural group performed a play and the choir sang. The play was specifically focused on Eskom’s tariff increase and how it was going to affect the working class whilst “elites” wouldn’t even see or feel the impact of that increase.
I think the audience really enjoyed the play. There was this huge lady who was really making us laugh every time she opened her mouth. She was a great actor and not shy of her body.
The only song I can remember now that we sang was George Choshane’s favourite “Siyaya ePitori, e Pitori”. We repeated this song many times because George Choshane likes it so much.
I’ve learned that in SA the battles are not won in the boardrooms but on the streets. We vote for people to lead us but later they turn against us. Bishop Verryn also alluded to that.
I also believe that without those Numsa campaigns, Eskom was going to get a bigger increase than that 8%. I believe that for them, 16% was just going to be a bonus for them.
I learned that if you want something, you have to work hard to achieve it.
The singing and dancing continued outside Nersa offices on Thursday. Comrades waved Cosatu and Numsa flags calling for Eskom’s head.
“We are tired but will never give up until we get what we want; especially when we are this far. Eskom thinks South Africans are stupid,” said one comrade carrying a lunch box.
Bishop Verryn was again at the forefront lighting candles before Numsa national office bearers, led by the president, went inside for the Nersa announcement.
Everyone was shaking and trembling when the Numsa President returned to announce the results of the proceedings.
“It’s a victory – Nersa only gave ESKOM 8% which includes 3% for independent power producers (IPP)”, he told us.
He thanked all those that had demonstrated at all the Nersa public hearings. He further warned those who spread lies about the organisation and the federation
“People must not go and spread lies that Numsa hijacked the Cosatu campaign. This is a Cosatu campaign and it must remain that way”.