The Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement of just transition financial support for Eskom to the value of R130 billion. This is positive news for Eskom and an economy that is in need of a stimulus.
Securing this funding is a key pillar of the Eskom Social Compact drafted by COSATU and adopted at Nedlac by government and social partners. This will benefit workers and communities whose livelihoods are at risk in our coal mining and energy sectors.
COSATU’s welcomes this badly needed injection as it will inject R130 billion into an economy in deep recession and in desperate need of every bit of stimuli. It will assist Eskom to invest in new energy generation capacity. This is critical as third of Eskom’s generation capacity will reach the end of its life span by 2030 and the power utility does not have sufficient funds at its disposal.
An additional energy generation capacity is critical in saving our limping economy. This investment will provide funding and support for just transition initiatives for workers and communities whose livelihoods are at risk.
This hopefully will be used to benefit coal mining and energy workers, including communities in Mpumalanga whose towns and economies revolve around these aging power stations and mines. We simply cannot afford to lose a single job when unemployment has pushed past 44%, nor can we allow communities to become lifeless ghost towns.
This should also assist Eskom in reducing its unsustainable debt burden of R400 billion to a more manageable level.
Whilst COSATU welcomes this announcement, the Federation will be engaging further with the government to ensure that its just transition commitments are honoured and that no worker or community will be left behind.
The key to ensuring an inclusive just transition is to create decent work and economic opportunities in the affected communities of Mpumalanga and elsewhere. This should include Eskom entering the renewable energy space as an owner of generation capacity. It must include building local manufacturing capacity for renewable energy technology.
All new energy construction investments must be required to only utilise locally produced materials. If successful, it can help to lay the foundations for just transition plans in other sectors of the economy.
Issued by COSATU National Spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla