Johannesburg - Eskom and environmental activists have the
same objectives, the electricity parastatal said on Tuesday in response to a
protest at its head office in Johannesburg, Megawatt Park.
"We don't have any objection to peaceful protest,"
said Eskom spokesperson Hilary Joffe.
"We do engage with NGOs (non-governmental
organisations) and I think we all have the same objectives as a country. We
want to secure the supply of electricity, give access to energy for all, and
cleaner electricity. The debate is about how we get there."
On Monday, Eskom put forward an application for a 16%
tariff hike a year for the next five years.
Of this increase, 3% would go towards the cost of renewable
energy produced by independent companies.
Eskom's average generation cost over this period was only 30
cents per kilowatt hour, compared to around R2 per kWh for renewable energy.
"The point to be made is that the cost of energy from
independent power producers is up to 10 times Eskom's current cost of
generation," she said.
As a result, South Africans needed to ask how quickly
renewable energy could, and should, be brought into the energy mix, she said.
At dawn, protesters from Greenpeace, groundWork and
Earthlife Africa unfurled a banner across the front entrance of Megawatt Park.
"Eskom is under new management," the banner
At the same time, activists chained themselves to the front
"Activists are asking to be invited into the
headquarters as new management in order to bring about changes South Africans
need," Greenpeace said in a statement on Tuesday.
Greenpeace said Bobby Peek, the director of clean air
activist group groundWork, was its "new Eskom CEO"; that Makoma
Lekalakala from Earthlife Africa, Johannesburg, was its "new Eskom
stakeholder engagement director"; and that Greenpeace activist Melita
Steele was its "new Eskom spokesperson".
The "new management" chained themselves to a table
outside the building.
Lekalakala said the action had been prompted, in part, by
Eskom's decision to seek an increase in electricity tariffs, announced on
Another factor had been a perceived lack of interest in
"There has been an outcry from the public for Eskom to
massively invest in renewable energy. They have ignored this, and continued in
their addiction to coal," she said.
Greenpeace and the other organisations promised to listen to
the people and phase out coal generation in favour of renewable energy. Eskom
should include them as part of the management team, said Lekalakala.
"We are also making a statement by occupying this
space. Eskom belongs to the people, it doesn't belong to corporates."
Peek said the health of communities was affected by toxic by
products from coal, and as a result suffered from chronic respiratory diseases.
Steele condemned Eskom's water usage as a result of its
reliance on coal.
"There are effective alternatives to coal, but there is
no substitute for water," she said.
Eskom used 10 000 litres of water a second, according to