Supporters of the proposal to unbundle Eskom into three separate parts — generation, transmission and distribution — would be advised to take a long hard look at what this normally leads to in terms of social and ecological outcomes. First, unions and their allies in SA are correct: unbundling is about privatisation. It is a policy that comes straight out of the privatisation manuals of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Whatever claims are made to the contrary, unbundling is not an end in itself, but a means to “engage the private sector”. The process can stretch out over a period of years, but privatisation is the goal. There has not yet been an unbundling process that did not lead to incursions by the private sector into publicly provided electrical power. Unbundling serves a privatisation agenda by consolidating the idea that electricity is a commodity; it shifts the focus towards trading in electrons, thus obscuring the fact that it is the actual use of e...

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