Stage six indicative of a deeper crisis in society




The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) reiterates its call for the immediate resignation of the Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, and the people who are supporting him in government — the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordan, President Cyril Ramaphosa and indeed, the entire cabinet that has done little to nothing to stop load shedding for fifteen years.

Most South Africans except those supporting de Ruyter for ideological reasons, particularly the drive to collapse Eskom and hand over the generation of energy to the multinational companies, are fed up with de Ruyter and would welcome his resignation.

Under the leadership of de Ruyter, Eskom has continued to plunge the country into unprecedented levels of loadshedding. In addition, SAFTU has previously pointed out that Eskom under de Ruyter has reintroduced apartheid spatial classification in which it targets black working-class residential areas for extended hours of loadshedding than the leafy suburbs.

It is clear that de Ruyter is failing to maintain the Eskom fleet and restore it to stability. Instead of achieving uninterrupted supply of power, de Ruyter has achieved uninterrupted implementation of loadshedding. Records have shown that under de Ruyter loadshedding has worsened, and the country has shed more megawatts of electricity than it has ever shed in a year since loadshedding started in 2007.

If an economic hub of the country sheds about 12 hours of loadshedding in a day as it happened in the Johannesburg city centre on Thursday, this means the social and economic losses are indeed unprecedented. This past Sunday, City Press painted a horrifying picture of the millions of Rands lost daily by corporate, but most importantly, small, and medium enterprises due to loadshedding. These companies will absorb increased costs of power generation and productivity loss by retrenching workers to protect their profits.

Our learners in basic education and students in colleges and universities, had to dread the long nights of study without lights to prepare for their exams. Hospitals that are not on Eskom’s list of loadshedding exemptions are also affected immensely, leaving patients vulnerable and unattended. People whose lives could have been saved, would have lost their lives due to power cuts that denied them access to life saving machines.

Criminals take cover in darkness and target residential areas for burglary and theft as they have the schedule of how much time they have in darkness by tracing the loadshedding schedule. This theft, include the looting of Eskom’s infrastructure which has been targeted more frequently due to wires not having power, making it easier for thugs to reap the cables.

Constant power cuts damage refrigerators and this often leads to food rotting in households. Loadshedding this December is even a bigger threat to working class people’s groceries. In working class townships, households participate in stokvels to hoard groceries and minimise costs of spending on food during the festive season and January, so the constant power cuts will lead to people’s food rotting, causing huge losses to the households that desperately need these groceries.

It is a shame that people from one of the biggest economies in Africa cannot even watch FIFA world cup uninterruptedly. The option of watching soccer matches is out of our hands and lies with de Ruyter and his incompetent executives. In a nutshell, this is a testament to how our social lives have been disrupted.

Those mismanaging Eskom must be held responsible for at least the loss of lives that happen due to loadshedding in hospitals, and economic liability for burglaries that take place in the dark cover of loadshedding.

The loadshedding crisis is just but one aspect of the crises in our lives. From world record levels of unemployment to an undeclared civil war spelled out by murder and rape statistics that shows 82 persons are killed on average every day to the endemic corruption that, alongside plans to privatise, has crippled State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

We call on the working class and all South Africans to refuse to normalise this abnormal situation. Workers and their allies in the poor working-class formations must intensify the campaign against neoliberalism, austerity programmes and inefficient managers in SOEs in 2023.

SAFTU reiterate its demands by calling for:

  • An end to loadshedding,
  • An end to a racist load reduction that targets black working-class communities,
  • the immediate resignation of the Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter,
  • Eskom be positioned under a different leadership that will ensure that it maintains the existing fleet to stabilise the supply of electricity and drives the introduction of renewables,
  • the entire government to resign because its commitment to neoliberalism will continue to run down and hollow out Eskom, whilst gradually replacing it with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) who will hold us hostage, and

A public pathway (reclaiming our Eskom generation sector and reasserting public ownership) for energy transition.

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