SAFTU joins the legal challenge to hold government and Eskom accountable

The South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) joins the legal challenge to hold government and Eskom management accountable. Our affiliate, the National Union of Metalworkers of SA (NUMSA), was already part of this process. 

SAFTU has always and continues to be an advocate against mismanagement of Eskom which has resulted in loadshedding, that has now moved from being intermittent to regular and continuous. It is amongst others, a reason we called for the resignation of the outgoing Eskom CEO, Andre de Ruyter, as soon as he began breaking records of loadshedding hours in 2021. 

In our call for his resignation, we were not oblivious to the fact that the Eskom crisis was engineered by the policies of the ANC government plus the endemic corruption that continues to plague this government. The combination of poor policy and corruption, produced the power cuts and collapsed provision of public services and goods. 

Other reasons pertaining to us supporting the letter and joining the possible litigation that may follow, is informed by the following concrete impact (some of them are captured in the letter) resulting from loadshedding: 

  • In hospitals, especially those that do not have adequate alternative sources of power, patients who are in intensive care units are gravely affected. Their lives are threatened by constant power cuts, and though no reports are immediately available for us, we suspect that others may have already lost their lives due to this. 

It creates backlog in number of patients who must go through surgeries, and interrupts cooking schedules for hospital kitchens. These add to inconveniences on patients. 

  • It was reported that at stage 6, the economy loses R4 billion each day. With loadshedding implemented nearly without interruption since September 2022, and several phases of stage 6 loadshedding, we say with certainty that the economy has lost hundreds of billions, if not trillions of rands. 

Accompanying this, is employers trying to input costs by retrenching workers and reducing wages. 

  • Rising levels of burglary shows that darkness stimulates crime. More burglaries are being recorded as the thugs take cover in darkness. In addition, thugs rip Eskom’s infrastructure, cables, during loadshedding. They take advantage of the absence of power in the cables. Ripped cables means that extended hours of power cuts for our communities and economic districts, and more costs to the already struggling Eskom as it must buy new cables to replace stolen ones. 

Because of these effects and many others, SAFTU reiterates its demands for: 

  • • Loadshedding exemption for all hospitals and clinics, small businesses, schools, and other institutions of learning, 
  • The electricity tariff hike approved by the National Energy Regulator of SA of 18,56% be rescinded, 
  • Eskom management fix the current fleet and stop any decommissioning of Eskom stations whilst we are still in this energy crisis. Building of new renewable capacity is possible without having to decommission coal fired power stations especially at the time when we desperately need to stabilise the grid and end loadshedding, 
  • Stop plans to privatise Eskom through unbundling and auctioning of the energy generation division. 
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