The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) is displeased with the continued loadshedding crisis, which has now reached the 6th stage.

The working class braces itself for the coldest winter in our history with rolling electricity blackouts that have continued for fifteen years now. More and more, working class people have to bath or shower with cold water to work and go to school because of this loadshedding crisis which continues unabated.

In rural areas, people embraced electrification and lauded it as progress in what was supposed to be the progressive realisation of the dream for a better life for all, but in the context of the persisting loadshedding over these many years, they are scolding it. They have to re-adjust to their own hybrid energy generation, supplementing Eskom themselves with fire wood and/or paraffin/gas stoves.

15 years of a crisis

The loadshedding crisis is a product of a combination of several factors. At the center of this was government’s refusal to invest in the aging Eskom infrastructure during the tenure of former President Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki as his deputy. They were preparing to have Eskom sold to the lowest bidder as part of their commitment to neoliberalism and privatisation. It was only through the resistance of the working class that they abandoned their ill-conceived plans yet they found a new expression under the presidencies of Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa. Neoliberalism has now been taken it to new heights. Eskom has been broken down; Independent Power Producers that are effectively subsidized by Eskom have been brought on board and private firms and municipalities have been allowed to generate their own energy. All this is designed to hollow out Eskom before a declared justification of privatisatised energy.

Enough is Enough! The SAFTU leadership, in their Political and Ideological Commission that took place today, 28 June 2022, unanimously decided to draw a line in the sand. It is time to fight back!

We call on our members to discuss a call previously made by our National Congress and the Central Committee that a general strike and/or a national shut down is long overdue. We cannot cope! It is not just the massive disruption of the lives of ordinary working class people and the economy that we must now appropriately respond to, but this massive energy crisis that has been left unattended to for fifteen years. This crisis combines with the runaway escalation of the cost of living. Paraffin, diesel, oil, gas prices are combining with the increases in transport and food prices to make the lives of the 12,4 million unemployed and the millions from the under-employed up to the middle class subjected to an untold economic squeeze.

SAFTU is holding its first National Executive Committee after its successful 2nd National Congress on Monday, 4–6 July at the Birchwood Hotel. The leadership of the Federation has agreed that this worsening crisis must be responded to. We call on workers across their different unions and federations and others who do not belong to unions to join hands with the 12,4 million unemployed and be ready for a battle that will stop at nothing but to ensure that President Ramaphosa takes practical steps to end load shedding, to stop the runaway electricity tariffs, stop escalating fuel prices, to drop prices of food and meet the historic demands of workers that the economy be shared.

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