NUMSA rejects Eskom’s request for a 19.9% tariff increase

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) calls on NERSA to reject Eskom’s request for a 19.9% tariff increase. NUMSA made submissions to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa today which is currently holding public consultations in Midrand on Eskom’s request to increase its prices in the 2018/19 financial year.
We view this demand by Eskom as nothing more than a gross abuse of power, and an attempt by the State Owned Entity (SOE) to hold the entire country and the economy hostage. To make matters worse Eskom is poorly led and its senior management team is drowning in scandals. It is shocking that in a period of just two years Eskom has had three CEO’s! It’s CFO has been suspended under a cloud of corruption and mismanagement. They want members of the public to entrust them with more money, when they have demonstrated complete incompetence and corruption.
They duped the public into believing in the necessity of systematic blackouts which they euphemistically termed ‘load-shedding’. A Deloitte investigation in 2011 which was looking into the emergency procurement of coal contracts concluded in 2008 by Eskom’s Primary Energy Division, details numerous irregularities and confirms that the blackout emergency, which cost South Africa an estimated R300-billion, was seemingly engineered to benefit certain companies.
Jobs were lost because the power cuts had a major impact on production. Thousands of working class families are languishing in poverty because breadwinners were retrenched, as a result of the collusion and greed of senior Eskom managers and private firms. Their selfish actions have caused irreparable harm on the lives of ordinary working class families and yet, their greed goes unpunished. This is an example of the violence of the capitalist system on the working class which our society has unfortunately come to accept as ‘normal’. As NUMSA we reject this abnormal state of affairs and that is why we are fighting for a classless, truly democratic society which is free of oppression and economic exploitation.
Eskom has the audacity to make a thumb suck demand for a 19.9% tariff increase. They have no regard for the catastrophic implications of this and for the national crisis of plant closures which will be triggered if this outrageous demand is met. The board and management of Eskom seem completely oblivious to the suffering of the working class majority. StatsSA has confirmed that more than half the population lives in abject poverty; more than 36% of the working population is unemployed and the gap between the rich and poor is ever widening. To make matters worse the economy is in junk status and growth prospects are very low.
Currently more than 36% of the working population is unemployed, and the numbers are increasing. More than 30.4 million of the population lives in abject poverty; the average worker supports at least 5 dependents on his/her meagre income, and at least 26 million South Africans go to bed hungry. Any change in the price of electricity will compound all these problems and increase the chances of a violent explosion in the country.
We demand free electricity for the working class and the poor, and affordably priced electricity for industry.
We reject Eskom’s request for a 19.9% tariff increase. For the working class, access to electricity, like water, must be a human right and therefore we demand free electricity for the working class and the poor. The working class majority and the poor cannot afford to pay and the state should not commodify a basic human necessity like electricity. The only way to improve the basic living conditions and quality of life of the majority of the people in South Africa who are the black and African majority still trapped in mass poverty, unemployment and inequality, is to ensure that every working class household has access to safe, clean free electricity. Eskom must change its mandate from profit seeking to ensuring that South Africa is adequately electrified both for domestic and industrial life.
We reject state capture and corruption at Eskom
The ‘state capture’ report showed that Eskom has been used as a conduit for the enrichment of the Guptas and other crony capitalists connected to President Jacob Zuma and top ANC leaders. In other words, Eskom abuses the revenue it receives from consumers and taxpayers to benefit sections of the political and economic elite. ‘State capture’ has occurred through not only the likes of the Guptas and corrupt cadres, or the likes of the white old guard Rupert’s, but even more so by the international financiers and their economic police – the credit rating agencies. Corruption is not just a problem within the public service, or confined to a small circle of political leaders and a few ‘rogue’ capitalists like the Gupta family. In the public sector it is invariably a result of collusion between public officials and companies in the private sector, which are just as steeped in corrupt and illegal practices.
We reject corruption and state capture in all its forms. We believe that paying more for electricity means endorsing this blatant looting of the country’s resources. Clearly the participation of private companies such as KPMG, Mackenzie, and Trillian in this looting is a clear demonstration that capitalism is corrupt, it is a system that breeds corruption and that is why we reject capitalism.
It is against this backdrop that NUMSA rejects Eskom’s outrageous demand for a 19.9% tariff increase. The Eskom board are clearly completely deaf and blind to the suffering of the working class because they decided to make this proposal in spite of the fact that there is glaring evidence that the majority of people simply cannot afford an increase in the electricity rate. What we need is free, safe and accessible energy for the working class and the poor. We reject any price increases because it will put electricity out of economic reach of the majority of people in the country.
Aluta continua!
The struggle continues!
Issued by Phakamile Hlubi
NUMSA National Spokesperson (Acting)