Unions will support Eskom unbundling, says Mantashe

accreditation
A bus passes power lines at dusk. (iStock)
A bus passes power lines at dusk. (iStock)

Labour unions that oppose the government’s plans to split embattled state-owned power utility Eskom into three units will ultimately have to support the reforms, according to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.

Eskom, which supplies about 95% of the nation’s electricity and is seen as the biggest threat to the economy, is reliant on government bailouts as it struggles under R440bn of debt while reporting annual losses. Mantashe is one of the key officials charged with ensuring that there is a reliable power supply and Eskom becomes financially sustainable.

'Save the country'

"The unions are going to get behind the plan," Mantashe said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Johannesburg. "We have a duty to do what is right for the country, more than what is just right for unions and workers, and we must do what can save the economy, what can save the country."

Mantashe is a former secretary general of the National Union of Mineworkers, which along with the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, represent the bulk of the utility’s 46 665 workers. Both labour groups have rejected plans to separate Eskom into generation, distribution and transmission units under a state holding company, fearing the move would be a precursor to privatisation and job losses.

Eskom "must be redirected and managed properly," said Mantashe, who served on the utility’s board in the 1990s. "If it fails, that would be a disaster for South Africa."

Mantashe also revealed that a long-awaited update of the government’s future energy blueprint, known as the Integrated Resource Plan, will be presented to the cabinet within the next two weeks. Technologies being considered to replace aging coal stations include modular nuclear plants, gas, hydro, solar and wind, he said.

- With assistance from Gordon Bell.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
16.24
-0.2%
Rand - Pound
19.82
-0.1%
Rand - Euro
16.78
-0.5%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.54
-0.5%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.1%
Gold
1,789.14
-0.2%
Silver
20.31
-1.4%
Palladium
2,289.00
+1.5%
Platinum
960.50
+1.5%
Brent Crude
97.40
+1.1%
Top 40
64,617
+2.3%
All Share
71,265
+2.1%
Resource 10
65,851
+2.1%
Industrial 25
87,063
+2.8%
Financial 15
15,964
+1.3%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot
Government tenders

Find public sector tender opportunities in South Africa here.

Government tenders
This portal provides access to information on all tenders made by all public sector organisations in all spheres of government.
Browse tenders