NEWS & ANALYSIS

Decision to bail Eskom out using workers money rejected – NUMSA

Union says decision by PIC to help power utility out with R5bn is shocking

NUMSA rejects decision to bail Eskom out using workers money

8 February 2018

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) is shocked that the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) board has agreed to bail Eskom out to the value of R5 billion. The power utility has been marred by allegations of corruption and state capture, leading to Parliament's public enterprises committee establishing an inquiry into the affairs of the state-owned enterprise (SOE).

To make matters worse there has been a long grocery list of corruption allegations against former board members and some senior managers at Eskom in recent years. The former acting CEO’s Sean Maritz, Matshele Koko and Brian Molefe are but a few of the senior executives who have been accused of looting at Eskom. It has also been dogged by scandals of questionable contracts which have defrauded the power utility of hundreds of millions of rand, including a R1.6 billion payment unlawfully made to Trillian Capital and global consultancy McKinsey. The rampant levels of corruption at the SOE have contributed to the financial crisis at the SOE, which is why it needed to be bailed out in the first place.

Now that the bosses have messed up, they are shifting the cost of their evil deeds onto the working class! That is typical of all Capitalists. They mess up and then pass on the cost of their failure onto the workers. That is exactly the situation with this bailout. There are no guarantees that this money will be paid back to the workers.  NUMSA has always maintained that SOE’s should not be funded with workers’ pension funds, until all SOE boards have been radically transformed. The new board at Eskom still does not have any representative from labour or civil society on it. How do we know that the current pathetic situation at Eskom won’t be repeated? There is no one on the board who will fight in the interests of the majority of people.

Business has welcomed the appointment of the new Chair Jabu Mabuza and they are praising him to high heaven. We are not surprised. Mabuza was merciless in massacring the working class at Telkom during his tenure. At least 4 thousand workers lost their jobs. This is in itself a clear indication that workers are in trouble. Privatization and cost cutting by job shedding and all sorts of anti-working class strategies are to be expected, from now on, and business will cheer all these evil measures. "Stability" will only be achieved at the expense of the workers. For over two decades SOE’s like Eskom have been used as piggy banks by the ANC to loot the coffers of the state in order to benefit their cronies.  This is likely to be repeated as nothing has changed in the governing party. The same culture of cronyism and corruption continues unabated. We will not allow Ramaphosa to replace one group of capitalist looters with another.

If SOE boards had labour and civil society representatives, then we could guarantee that every rand from the national fiscals was being put to good use. It is the only way to ensure transparency on behalf of the majority of South Africans who are members of the working class. The working class are the ones who produce the wealth and the profits of these SOE’s, but they are always the first to be sacrificed when terrible decisions are made by the board and senior management of these entities. Workers at Eskom risk losing their jobs because senior managers have looted Eskom to the point that there are very few resources left. This is also the situation at SAA where cost cutting will lead to job losses. But there are very few consequences for the looters and the corrupt senior managers who have robbed these institutions of the necessary resources they need in order to be sustainable.

Furthermore NUMSA is adamant that Eskom should return to its original mandate of delivering competitive, cheap electricity tariff to the economy and to electrify and all communities. Therefore we are of the firm view that if Eskom were to go back to this original mandate it would not have to relentlessly chase the balance sheet in order to maximize profits. It is against this background that NUMSA rejects the bailout.  

It seems to that there appears to be a renewed reactionary agenda by the new board to privatize Eskom. That’s why as NUMSA we demand to know what process Ramaphosa followed to appoint this board. It can’t be correct that someone like Zuma was allowed to appoint board members which captured the SOE, equally it cannot be correct that Ramaphosa can appoint his own cronies to the board.  We are convinced that Ramaphosa and his associates wish to privatize the entity for their own interest.  We will not tolerate privatization and we will do all we can to fight against it.

We call on our members remain extremely vigilant because those who always present themselves to be holier than thou, are often extremely dangerous.

Aluta continua!

The struggle continues!

Issued by Irvin Jim, NUMSA General Secretary, 8 February 2018