Job-creating renewables deal stalled by Numsa, Zuma-backer ‘Transform RSA’

JOHANNESBURG — In a last-ditch effort, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) successfully managed to interdict the country’s much-needed R56bn renewables deal in the North Gauteng High Court in Tshwane last night. The deal, which Ramaphosa’s new government revived last week after years of delays under Jacob Zuma, is expected to create 60,000 jobs and help bring the country back to being the fastest-growing solar and wind energy market in the world. But, as usual, labour unions are finding themselves out of step with the 21st century, and Numsa has interdicted the deal on the basis that it thinks 30,000 people will lose their jobs in the coal industry. What’s curious about this matter is that an organisation called ‘Transform RSA’ — which has openly backed Jacob Zuma and also been a regular on the likes of ANN7 — joined Numsa in its interdict bid. – Gareth van Zyl

By Alastair Reed

(Bloomberg) – A South African court granted an urgent order preventing the state-owned power utility from signing 27 contracts with independent power producers, according to the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and Transform RSA, who sought the order.

“The court found that our application meets the standard for urgency and therefore granted us the interdict,” Numsa said in an emailed statement. “The energy minister was forced to give an undertaking in court that he would not sign the IPP agreements on Tuesday until the matter has been given a full hearing by the High Court.”

The order stops Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. from completing the agreements that have stalled for more than two years and which would release 56 billion rand ($4.7 billion) of investment, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said last week. Numsa argues that signing them would see the utility cutting back on using coal for power, which would lead to the closure of coal-fired plants and hurt the livelihoods of at least 30,000 families.

Eskom uses coal for about 90 percent of its generation.

The North Gauteng High Court, based in Pretoria, will hold a full hearing into the matter on March 27, Numsa said. 

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