Why Eskom Is In A Mess and What To Do About It
No matter who you are, no South African can avoid coming face to face with the crisis at Eskom. Load shedding puts a stop to daily life, closes businesses, and in the end cuts jobs, while the high price of power weighs on every household and business. Eskom’s debt gives the government another excuse to cut their budgets, resulting in fewer nurses in clinics, fewer teachers in schools, and fewer roads and houses being built. If you live near a power plant or drought-stricken area, then you have also no doubt seen and directly felt the results of Eskom’s pollution in the rivers and the air, or in the climate that is changing for the worse every year. In the past year, the Ramaphosa government has begun pushing forward with what is known as “unbundling”, a foundation for their planned changes to Eskom. Unbundling is effectively the process of breaking up into 3 different companies, each tasked with carrying out either ‘distribution’, ‘transmission’, and ‘generation’.
In their view, the choice is between the broken and corrupt Eskom we have now, or a working unbundled Eskom. You may know that many unions and movements, maybe even your own, are against the government’s plans. They say that the government’s solution will be one that favours businesses over workers, profits over people, and closed board rooms over democratic consultation. The unions are right. For the past two years, a team of researchers from various organisations and labour movements have worked together in producing a report called Eskom Transformed. Using this research, we put to rest the idea that our only choice is between the current broken Eskom or the proposed unbundled Eskom. We found that unbundling can not save Eskom nor ensure stable and affordable electricity. Instead, the only way out of South Africa’s energy crisis is through a transformation of Eskom into a truly public and transparent utility, one that works for the good of all.
In this booklet, we bring together some key arguments, summaries, and sections of the full Eskom Transformed report. We hope to leave you not only with an understanding of why unbundling is a dead end but also with a vision of an alternative that is worth fighting for!
Read the full booklet here.