Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim. File photo: ANA/Siphelele Dludla

In The News South Africa

Numsa condemns Nersa for granting Eskom tariff increase

JOHANNESBURG, December 16 – The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) is not acting in the interests of the working class majority and the public in general, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said on Saturday.
Numsa condemned Nersa for granting power parastatal Eskom a 5.2 percent tariff increase, Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim said.
“Last month, Numsa and the United Front participated in public consultations on Eskom’s request for a 19.9 percent price increase in the 2018/2019 financial year, where we rejected the request,” he said.
Numsa rejected any increase in the cost of electricity, and was dismayed by Nersa’s decision to grant Eskom an above inflation 5.2 percent price increase. “By doing so, the energy regulator is demonstrating it does not act in the interests of the working class majority and the public in general. Most companies, big and small, simply cannot afford it. The tariff hike is likely to result in plant closures which will lead to more job losses and stifle growth in the economy,” Jim said.
 For the working class, access to electricity, like water, was a human right and therefore Numsa demanded free electricity for the working class and the poor, and affordable electricity for industry. The working class majority and the poor could not afford to pay, and the state should not “commodify this basic human necessity”.
“Eskom is poorly led and its senior management team is drowning in scandals. The management team has shown that it cannot be trusted to clean up the power utility. The outcome of the disciplinary hearing of Matshela Koko, the suspended acting CEO, proves this. Koko was disciplined for failing to declare a conflict of interest regarding his step-daughter’s ownership of shares in a company which was awarded more than a billion rand in contracts by an Eskom division which he led. He was cleared of all charges and the chairperson has reinstated him. This is despite the fact that the hearings have been discredited because of allegations of board interference and threats of intimidation,” Jim said.
Furthermore, in a period of just two years Eskom had had three CEOs. “Its CFO has been suspended under a cloud of corruption and mismanagement.  Clearly the participation of private companies such as KPMG, Mackenzie, and Trillian in the looting of Eskom resources, and the undue influence of the Gupta family in allegations of state capture is a clear indication that paying more for electricity means endorsing this blatant theft of our country’s resources,” he said.
Nersa had demonstrated that it was completely oblivious to the suffering of the working class majority. StatsSA had confirmed that more than half the population lived in abject poverty; more than 36 percent of the working population was unemployed and the gap between the rich and poor was ever widening. 
To make matters worse, the economy was in junk status and growth prospects were very low. The majority of the working class could not afford to pay for electricity. Therefore an above inflation increase of 5.2 percent would compound all these problems and increase the chances of a “violent explosion” in the country.
Numsa, together with the United Front, would hold regular demonstrations and pickets across the country next year to highlight these issues. “What we need is free, safe, and accessible energy for the working class and the poor. We reject any price increase because it will put electricity out of economic reach of the majority of people in the country,” Jim said.
– African News Agency (ANA),

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