The union believes that the process to procure the IPPs was not followed when the agreements were signed.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) is calling for an independent commission of inquiry to investigate the procurement process of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) by the energy department.
In April last year, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe signed a R56bn IPP contract with 27 independent renewable energy IPPs to add 2 300 megawatt of electricity to the national grid over the next five years.
Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said yesterday on Power FM, Radebe’s proximity to both President Cyril Ramaphosa and businessman Patrice Motsepe is worrying because both Radebe and Ramaphosa are brothers-in-law to Motsepe.
“We believe that there is definitely a conflict of interest here. First of all, within seven days of Radebe’s appointment, the first thing he does is to conclude the contracts with the 27 IPPs,” said Numsa’s spokesperson.
“And it just so happens that one of the companies which benefited because of the conclusion of the contracts is AREP [African Rainbow Energy and Power] which is owned by Patrice Motsepe who happens to be his brother-in-law. This is clearly a conflict of interest,” she added.
The IPPs companies have come under fire since last year with Cosatu saying they are unaffordable.
According to Cosatu spokesperson Sizwe Pamla, “Eskom must be allowed to produce renewable energy itself. The DOE needs to resuscitate its solar panel roll-out the programme to indigent households to help make electricity affordable to them and to ensure those panels are locally made.”
Meanwhile, Numsa is demanding an independent commission in the interest of fairness. On Monday Motsepe held a press briefing where he distanced himself and his business interests from the government’s proposed IPPs contract. He was quick to tell journalists that there was no favouritism in the renewable energy project bids.
In a reaction to the budget speech, Greenpeace Africa spokesperson Chris Vlavianos said: “We will hold the minister of finance to his assertion that the steps being undertaken at Eskom will allow us to expand renewable energy; anything less will turn the grace of this bailout into an insult and indulgent waste of South Africans’ money.”