UF Press Statement: ESKOM SUSPENSIONS – 12 March 2015

Press Statement: ESKOM SUSPENSIONS – 12 March 2015
As the Eskom debacle thickens, the United Front calls for a judicial enquiry into the management of the electricity utility and an urgent civil society conference on the electricity crisis

The suspension of Eskom’s chief executive officer Tshediso Matona and three of his executive colleagues, six months after he was thrust onto the helm of the electricity utility indicates that instead of abating, the mess within Eskom thickens. In addition to ongoing load-shedding, as a country we have been subjected to huge electricity tariff increases, a financial meltdown of the utility, time and cost overruns in the company’s build-programme.

For the United Front (UF), the Eskom crisis calls for emergency solutions and not mere tinkering. It is for this reason that in January 2015, the UFNational Working Committee (NWC) called for a judicial enquiry about the management of Eskom contracts on primary energy and overruns in building new power stations. The committee also called for the convening a national civil society conference on electricity crisis as a response to the shutting out of voices outside of government and business on the electricity crisis.

The United Front is not convinced that team that the chairperson of Eskom’s board of directors Zola Tsotsi announced will be able to get to the bottom of the problems at the state-owned electricity company. The Eskom audit and risk committee may be implicated in the mismanagement within Eskom. It is for this reason that the United Front is calling for an independent judicial commission of enquiry.

Appointing a judicial commission of enquiry will not be taking place for the first time. Faced with conditions not dissimilar with the ones that confront us now, the apartheid government appointed the De Villiers Commission ofEnquiry between 1983 and 1985 to investigate Eskom’s woeful investment practices.

To realise its demand for a judicial commission enquiry, the United Front will convene an urgent meeting of those who support the call on 26– 27March 2015. The emergency civil society conference on electricity crisis is scheduled for Monday 13 – Wednesday 15 April 2015. The electricity crisis conference will deal with short-term and medium responses to loadshedding, financial issues facing Eskom, unaffordable electricity pricing, how to put Eskom under democratic control without opting forprivatisation, how to provide basic energy services beyond the fragmented free basic electricity provisions, discrepancies between electricity that Eskom distributes and the one that municipalities supply.

Those interested in the campaigns can contact:

Mazibuko Khanyiso Jara (UF National Secretary) – 083 987 9633
Vuyo Bikitsha (Numsa Energy Coordinator) – 074 829 1679
John Appolis (UF Campaigns Coordinator) – 073 408 2674