Arrest those who looted billions from Eskom - Cosatu

(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)
(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

Those involved in the looting of billions from Eskom must be arrested, charged and have their assets frozen or confiscated, the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) told Parliament on Wednesday.

Cosatu’s parliamentary head Matthew Parks told MPs the trade union federation had been shocked over Eskom’s "missing billions".

In the second week of public hearings on government's draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which sets out the country’s future electricity mix until 2030, Parks told the Energy Portfolio Committee that Cosatu had thought the IRP would take the public into its confidence on Eskom's state capture and looting and explain how billions had disappeared.

But there had been very little action by government to recover the stolen billions and the audit on Eskom had not gone far enough, in Cosatu's view.

Parks said the IRP must be revised to include a "serious business model that would stabilise and save Eskom".

It must also present a clear and sustainable business model for Eskom and plans on how to recover the stolen money.

Cosatu called for assurance that proposals to retrench between 17 000 ad 30 000 Eskom staff would not happen.

"If there is a need to reduce the head count, then management vacancies can be frozen," Parks said.

Cosatu believed municipalities that owed Eskom for electricity must pay up. While he understood that price hikes made electricity unaffordable for some communities, there could not be a situation where some paid, while others did not.

Regarding renewable energy, Parks said there should be renegotiation with independent power producers running wind and solar to reduce the price at which Eskom had to buy electricity from them.

There must be a requirement that all renewable technology be manufactured locally.

Parks said in the face of global climate change and the transition away from coal, Cosatu wanted a plan for a just transition designed to protect coal workers and coal-mining towns.

"There is a need to reskill workers, to build new factories for solar panels in those towns. There is specific funding available to reskill workers," Parks said.

Solar energy had created 27 000 jobs in the Northern Cape.

"There is a need for massive investment in green job opportunities."

The draft IRP was silent on the nuclear deal with Russia. Cosatu hoped this silence meant that the nuclear proposal was buried and off the table.

Cosatu believed that, if SA went the way of nuclear energy, it would be "committing economic suicide".

In the following submission, Leon Louw of the Free Market Foundation said the IRP should bring back nuclear energy, because "nuclear is the future".

"Nuclear is the cheapest and to exclude it from the mix is highly reckless," Louw said.

He said everyone loved to cite the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan as a sign that the technology was not safe.

"But Fukushima was not a nuclear disaster, it was a nuclear triumph."

No one had died as a result of Fukushima, and the effect on the surrounding marine life had been only a few mutations.

Louw said the IRP was flawed because renewable energy had not been fully costed.

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