The Minister in the Presidency, Mondli Gungubele, said that the government has no plans to sell the national power utility Eskom.

Addressing Cosatu and Saftu members at the end of their national strike on the rising cost of living on Wednesday (24 August), Gungubele reassured the unions that the privatisation of Eskom is off the cards.

“I want to also make this guarantee, comrades; there is no plan in this government to sell Eskom. It does not exist; you’ll not find it in any document.”

He added that the new energy plan must be overseen by the labour federations.

In the memorandum received by Gungubele, Cosatu put forward the ‘Eskom Social Compact’ to address load shedding and power concerns. The compact seeks to ensure the economy has access to affordable and reliable electricity; however, little has been done in terms of its execution or policy considerations.

Cosatu has opposed calls by businesses to unbundle and privatise Eskom. The union said that Eskom, being the greatest economic asset of the country, cannot be handed to those whose sole motive is to maximise profit.

“We agree that the deterioration of the power utility poses the greatest risk to our economy, but we have no choice but to fix it. Ideological fantasies of privatisation may appeal to others, but they won’t resolve our energy crisis,” said Cosatu.

The union added that workers could not be blamed for decades of neglect, under-investment and state capture.

To deal with rolling blackouts in the country, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced (25 July) regulations that allow for the fast-tracking of new energy generation projects.

Under Ramaphosa’s ‘new energy plan’, broad interventions included the integration of the private sector into energy generation, the boosting of skilled workers at facilities across the country and a roadmap to deal with Eskom’s debt before October, to name a few.

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