The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) will picket against the rolling blackouts, and to register their continued opposition to the privatisation of Eskom on Wednesday night (19 October 2022). The picket will take place at Eskom Megawatt Park in Sunninghill (Johannesburg) from 19:00.
This morning (18 October 2022), Eskom shattered the hopes many of us had that they were moving towards suspending loadshedding when they implemented another stage 4 of loadshedding, representing a regression from the improved/lowered levels/stages over the weekend.
More apparent, is that Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, is failing to maintain the Eskom fleet and restore it to stability, in which electricity could at least be supplied uninterruptedly. Records have shown that under de Ruyter loadshedding has worsened, and the country has shed more megawatts of electricity than it has ever shed since loadshedding started in 2007.
Many experts and critics have argued that de Ruyter is not fit to run Eskom simply because he is not an engineer and lacks knowledge to enable him to achieve proper maintenance whilst keeping the lights on. Due to the mismanagement of Eskom, 15gw of more than 46gw base capacity of Eskom is constantly out use due to maintenance.
The current crisis is partly a crisis of current mismanagement, and partly a culmination of historic neglect rooted in ANC’s intentions to privatise the generation sector of Eskom. The intent to privatise Eskom’s generation sector started with moratorium in late 1990s preventing Eskom from expanding its generation capacity so that it could be opened for private producers (privatisation), and later, by corruption that stalled the completion of Medupi and Kusile power stations.
Having engineered the crisis, the government of the day is moving with lightning speed to procure private producers who will generate energy to the Eskom grid. Greater amount of renewable capacity is auctioned to private producers, whilst Eskom is pushed to decommission. This means the private sector is given an advantage to dominate the energy transition, instead of building renewable energy capacity for Eskom. In the future, if the decarbonisation plans of government as captured in the Roadmap for Eskom are anything to go by, the energy generation will be dominated by private producers (also called Independent Power Producers).
SAFTU is opposed to privatisation and has long lamented government from defunding Eskom and other State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), as this plunges the state utilities in crisis leading to their privatisation.
In addition, privatisation, and the insistence to create an “enabling environment for private investment” for energy transition has led to the swelling prices of electricity. Hence de Ruyter said two weeks ago that electricity prices are lower in South Africa. The intention is, as has been the practice in the past 15 years, to increase prices of electricity in order to create assurance to the private sector that there would be profitability if they invest.