The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) has called on the ANC leadership to convene a meeting with trade unions to put together a team of experienced Eskom engineers who were “marginalised” by the current leadership.
Numsa said Eskom did not have the necessary human capital for the maintenance of its current fleet of power stations.
“Eskom does not have the required competencies at all levels of the organisation, starting from the board to senior management to the power stations.
“All competent Eskom engineers, some being Numsa members, have been pushed back and replaced by clueless novices who know nothing about maintaining a plant or how to prepare for December and January’s peak demand, maintenance of plants, let alone preparing for annual summer rains,” said Numsa general secretary Irvin Jim.
He said Numsa was aware that many qualified and competent engineers at Eskom were being marginalised, which he said had led to these power plants breaking down.
“This is the reason why the current Eskom management team and the board have been sending conflicting messages bordering on lies to the point of completely misleading the president, who made allegations of sabotage,” he added.
Trade union Solidarity’s deputy CEO Deon Reyneke said the union would fully support an initiative to bring back the experienced engineers and technicians, and they had a database of skilled former Eskom workers. He said these skills included engineers, technicians, project managers, financial managers and contractors.
“We have over 350 names of engineers, artisans and technicians who are willing to go back to Eskom and we would be more than happy to assist,” said Reyneke.
National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said the union would support any efforts to stabilise Eskom and welcomed the call for the return of competent engineers at Eskom.
He said the current problems at Eskom, including poor governance and lack of financial management, required a full-scale independent forensic investigation in order to clean up the corruption and incompetence.
“The unity of workers is paramount, therefore as NUM we welcome the call for a meeting with competent engineers.
“We have stated before that we do not support the appointment of the new CEO because he is not an engineer,” said Mammburu. He said the motive behind the appointment of Andre de Ruyter, a lawyer, by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was to unbundle and privatise Eskom.
“He is not there to solve the structural problems but to unbundle the power utility into three separate entities for generation, transmission and distribution.
“However, what we really need is an independent forensic investigation into Eskom in order root out the corruption and incompetent managers,” he said.
Mammburu said a special focus of the investigation should be on independent power producers, who he said were paid billions of rands by Eskom yet the country was still experiencing load shedding.
The ANC did not respond to questions by the time of going to press.