Eskom managers commit crimes against humanity – union rage at national “darkness”

Eskom, load shedding
Picture: Twitter

Load-shedding by Eskom tends to stoke the outrage among manufacturers and those reliant on a stable workforce to keep the wheels running. At a hearing in Johannesburg, however, a senior Cosatu unionist went for the jugular accusing the power utility of what amounted to theft from the poor and the often-blamed but oppressed workers for strikes and inefficiencies. Indeed, Dumusani Dakile (Gauteng general secretary of the union federation) accused management of greed and incompetence, and made the suggestion that Eskom managers should be in jail – Ahmed Areff

(News24) — The management of Eskom and all its executives have committed crimes against humanity and deserve to be in jail, Cosatu said on Wednesday. This highly-loaded accusation (given the recent visit of Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir to our shores) was levelled by Congress of South African Trade Unions Gauteng secretary Dumisani Dakile to a National Energy Regular of SA (Nersa) panel in Johannesburg. The subtler interpretation is that it is government’s responsibility to ensure the financial sustainability of Eskom, and that as a state-owned enterprise the energy company has a huge “developmental mandate” that it is failing to fulfil. 

“We are just making ourselves a laughing stock. We can’t call ourselves a developmental state if we can hardly keep the lights on as a country,” Dakile said. “If we really were a developmental state, all these chief executives of Eskom and all the management of Eskom — they should have been taken to prison … because of the inefficiencies they are creating in the country. We can’t allow this thing to happen. In fact this is [a] crime against humanity, what they are doing to ordinary people and citizens … and what do we do to them? We give them (golden) handshakes and bonuses.”

The parastatal is applying for a 24.78% increase. It has already received a 12.6% increase, which would make up part of the 24.78%.

Dakile told Nersa that its hearings on the application are not “public” as it has said. “We urge Nersa to go where people are, not here where only a few can go. This thing of centralisation of public hearings denies the majority of people an opportunity for them to be able to express [their views]. The operation of Nersa thus far is only for the elite… that is afforded an opportunity.”

He also made reference to former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona: “The former Eskom CEO, who has been given a golden handshake … money that could be used for the tariffs … had indicated that at the heart of the challenge facing Eskom to keep the lights on was its failure over a period of time to maintain its plants. Why should electricity consumers, part of the working class and poor, have to bear the brunt of Eskom inefficiencies?”

Dakile deepened his criticism of the energy provider: “People who are creating the crisis expect the poor and the working class to come and save them. Even owners of spaza shops don’t have as many inefficiencies as Eskom …

“We submit that if we cut by half the salary that is given to the new CEO and all of his executive members, that money will be able to be utilised efficiently, [rather] than for you to give Eskom the increase they are requesting. Even if we can give them a 2-million percent increase they will not be able to resolve the crisis. We will still be in load-shedding.”

His final spate of vitriol” “They must go back and sort out the darkness that was created in Eskom.”

Dakile was then questioned by the panel over claims that workers were to blame for delays in the construction of power stations through strikes, and that the quality of work done by workers in maintenance is poor.

He responded that workers are always to blame. “I don’t think that if we take you and give you some of the work those workers are doing, you can even survive for an hour. You will run away. And I will challenge you by the way so that we can prove this thing … so that you will have a taste. And we will check with you after and ask if you will be able to work under these conditions, and will you go on strike?” Dakile asked.

In terms of maintenance, he said some plants are “skorokoro” on their last legs”.

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