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Ramaphosa sabotaged by Eskom’s executive, says Cosatu’s Losi

The Cosatu leader addressed thousands of members outside the Durban City Hall after they marched through the CBD on Wednesday.

Congress of South African Trade Unions president Zingiswa Losi during the media briefing at Cosatu House in Johannesburg on 29 November 2018 .Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

DURBAN/JOHANNESBURG - Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) president Zingiswa Losi says President Cyril Ramaphosa has been sabotaged by the executive at Eskom and those responsible must face disciplinary action.

Losi addressed thousands of members outside the Durban City Hall after they marched through the CBD on Wednesday.

The federation is holding a nationwide strike against unemployment, the current wave of retrenchments and income inequality.

Losi says the executive at Eskom has just one job, which is to make sure that the lights stay on, and it’s rather convenient that load shedding has returned just days after Ramaphosa delivered his State of the Nation address.

Speaking in IsiXhosa, Losi said they are tired of workers always being the scapegoat when discussions around saving Eskom take place.

Unlike her colleagues in the federation, Losi says she was aware of plans to unbundle the power utility on the condition that electricity tariffs don’t go up, workers’ jobs are retained and that the state-owned entity is protected from privatisation.

“People who have the responsibility at Eskom to make sure that the lights are on across South Africa, they must do their job. If they fail to do their job, they must face a disciplinary process because they get paid. We are tired of workers suffering whenever Eskom needs to be saved.”

However, the Cosatu president says consultations around the unbundling at Eskom must and will continue.

ESKOM CEO RECEIVES COSATU MEMORANDUM

Meanwhile, at the Johannesburg leg of the protest, Cosatu members warned that government’s plans to restructure the Eskom must not impact on a single worker.

Cosatu says South Africans are having to put up with load shedding due to years of corruption, looting and mismanagement at the power utility.

The union federation and its affiliates have warned government that the planned unbundling of Eskom must not lead to privatisation.

They’ve delivered a memorandum to Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe outside the Minerals Council South Africa offices.

Cosatu’s Amos Monyela said: “In terms of what Eskom is planning to do, [we] say no to privatisation and we are going to fight until the last drop of our blood.”

The South African Communist Party (SACP)’s first deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila says privatisation is not the answer to Eskom’s troubles.

“Eskom faces a serious problem because of mismanagement, looting, corruption, and state capture that happened at the entity that has led to this institution losing billions of rand.”

Cosatu and the SACP say they plan to meet with the ANC to discuss the future of the embattled power utility.

At the same time, Losi has also criticised the announcement by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan that international experts will be brought in to help Eskom keep the lights on, saying there are thousands of qualified South Africans here on home soil.

Italian engineers roped in to assist Eskom

She says Gordhan must first provide evidence that he’s exhausted all possible options within South Africa before parachuting outsiders into this country.

"We must begin to answer on whose interests are these people coming to our country? And what are they doing when they come here? We are going to have these engineers coming here and they are going to be left on their own to fix these things [and] South Africans won’t know what they have done and they will leave. When we are again hit by this crisis, we must also rely on them.”

Losi says if international experts are brought in, a programme must be constructed to ensure a skills transfer to South Africans to make sure maintenance is sustainable once they leave.

(Edited by Thapelo Lekabe)

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