Steam rises at sunrise from the Lethabo Power Station, a coal-fired power station owned by state power utility Eskom near Sasolburg. Picture: REUTERS
Steam rises at sunrise from the Lethabo Power Station, a coal-fired power station owned by state power utility Eskom near Sasolburg. Picture: REUTERS

Splitting Eskom into three units will mean its mandate of producing reliable electricity at an affordable rate will be replaced by an emphasis on productivity at whatever cost.

The unbundling of Eskom  will be  a costly exercise. There will be three boards, three CEOs and three CFOs, which will just  add to the problems. They  will still consume the very same constrained public resources.

Rumours abound that there will be  a large number of retrenchments at Eskom.

 The real unemployment rate, including people who have given up looking for work, is 38%, with close to 10-million people struggling to get jobs and  more than 17-million on welfare.

At the recently held National Union of Mineworkers (NUM)  national shop stewards’ council, workers expressed anger towards Eskom. They reiterated the NUM’s position that retrenchments at Eskom will  not happen in our lifetime.

The unbundling of Eskom is clearly motivated by greed and continued corrupt activities within the power utility. This move will also weaken the unity of workers, as workers will be divided into three businesses. The unity of workers in 1998-2000 derailed the attempt by then president Thabo Mbeki’s regime to privatise 30% of Eskom’s power generation.

At the council, the shop stewards  said they do not want an Eskom that is always bailed out; they want  a permanent solution to the problems. There are 12  power stations in Mpumalanga alone and workers are prepared to down tools to fight  against the splitting of the power utility.

Any posture that seeks to propel the unbundling will be met with militancy and radicalism. Watch this space.

Luphert Chilwane
Media officer, National Union of Mineworkers