NUMSA applies for interdict to block Eskom from signing IPP contracts

The announcement that the government and Eskom complied with NUMSA's demand to once again delay the signing of renewable energy contracts means that they are sabotaging South Africa's economy and the environment.

The developments have been received differently by the experts involved in the energy sector.

Radebe noted that he took the decision to postpone the signing until after the matter was dealt with in court voluntarily in the spirit of constitutionalism and the rule of law.

Numsa said the signing of these contracts "would be detrimental for the working class of Mpumalanga and the country as a whole".

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe last week announced that government and Eskom would sign 27 of the agreements pertaining to bid rounds 3.5 and 4 of the department of energy's acclaimed Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme yesterday, after a delay of almost two years. In his response, Radebe said nothing prevented Eskom and IPPs from signing the agreements.

Two unions in South Africa have blocked the signing of renewable energy power purchase agreements claiming that doing so will lead to job losses from closed coal plants. "Northern Cape will have 59 percent of the jobs created, followed by Eastern Cape with 15 percent and North West 13 percent of jobs created", Radebe said in a statement on Tuesday.

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Hlubi said the union was questioning the intentions.

"The IPP roll-out will raise the cost of electricity dramatically, because IPP's cost much more than coal-fired electricity", Numsa said.

After arguments were concluded, the court refused to grant an interim interdict against Eskom or the Minister but instead postponed the matter to 27 March 2018, with the responding parties to file their answering papers by 20 March 2018 and the applicants' parties to file their replying papers by 22 March 2018. "The combination of all these factors will have dire consequences for the working class and the poor".

But this plan was stopped by trade union Numsa and lobby group Transform South Africa when they were granted a late-night interdict by the High Court to halt the proceedings. The oldest coal-fired power plants are fifty years old and have already exceeded their expected operational time.

"South Africa's renewable programme can contribute directly to the benefits associated with the necessary energy transition in South Africa and must be allowed to continue", says Martin.

  • Sonia Alvarado