Loadshedding: Eskom is trying to blackmail SA, says SACP

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Solly Mapaila
Solly Mapaila

The South African Communist Party says Eskom’s management is rolling out massive blackouts in an attempt to blackmail South Africans to accept privatisation of the power utility.

Eskom resumed with loadshedding for the first time this year on Sunday.

Power cuts continued yesterday and today after a failure of generating units.

“The management of Eskom, in the manner that they are rolling out these blackouts, is trying to blackmail us so we must accept whatever should befall Eskom. We should not be blackmailed into that. That’s why we believe that these blackouts can be avoided,” SACP first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila said in Diepkloof, Soweto, today.

Mapaila made the remarks during the 107th birthday celebration of Rebecca Kotane, wife of former SACP general secretary and former treasurer-general Moses Kotane.

Mapaila said one of reasons given by Eskom for load shedding was low stocks of diesel.

“Why can’t they procure enough diesel on time? It is all of those things that I think are just unacceptable. The reasons why there were blackouts and so forth were issues of leadership incompetence. We want them [Eskom management] to pull up their socks and serve this country properly and not condemn the country to massive blackouts.”

Mapaila continued: “It is very disruptive. We want Eskom to be strengthened. We agree that there are challenges and they have huge debts but [should not resort to] blackmail.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa angered Cosatu and other unions during his state of the nation address on Thursday night when he announced that Eskom would be split into three units – generation, transmission and distribution.

“This will ensure that we isolate costs and give responsibility to each appropriate entity. This will also enable Eskom to be able to raise funding for its various operations much more easily from funders and the market,” said Ramaphosa.

Mapaila said Ramaphosa gave his assurance that Eskom would never be privatised.

At the ANC lekgotla, Ramaphosa repeated this twice in his opening and closing address, said Mapaila.

“That was an assurance that we got. This was also assurance to the alliance political council. We live by that particular assurance.”

ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, who also attended the birthday celebration, warned that the unbundling of Eskom into three units was an attempt to privatise Eskom.

He also cautioned that if Eskom was privatised the ANC-led alliance would have problems.

“We must stick to our resolutions, we must respect them and people will take us serious. There is no contradiction where workers say no to retrenchments. There is no contradiction when [the National Union of Mineworkers] says no privatisation. We should not say things in the boardrooms and say [different] things in public,” Magashule said.

“The president has committed that the people of South Africa must relax. Eskom is definitely going to be what it is supposed to be. We know that Eskom is not going to be privatised,” he said.

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