The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes with immense concern the ongoing violent protests at two coal mines in Mpumalanga. These mines are key coal suppliers to Eskom and it is reported that the violent protests are due to unrest stoked by the Truckers Association of South Africa (TASA).
The companies affected, Mzimkhulu Mining and SG Coal, have since approached the High Court to seek an urgent interdict against TASA. The DA calls on Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, to intervene immediately in order to qual the ongoing unrest as it could have serious consequences on Eskom’s ability to provide a stable electricity supply.
As Former Chairperson of the National Union of Mineworkers, it should be a quick and easy assignment for the Minister to deal with TASA.
In papers filed in the Middelburg High Court, Mzimkhulu Mining accuses truck owners in the eMalahleni area of intimidation and damage to property. This is compounded by the fact that the reported approximate value of coal which can’t be transported amounts to an alleged R8.1 million per day. Mack Maleka of Mzimkhulu Mining has since stated:
“The unlawful actions also result in nonfulfillment of contractual commitments towards Eskom. The mine had to shut down for the day because nobody was allowed access“.
The actions of TASA are indicatively criminal in nature. TASA have chosen to protest in a manner that prevents some employees from gaining access to their places of work, and are intimidating others with threats to their personal safety in these workspaces. These acts are also compromising the energy security of our state. It is wholly unacceptable for a union to hold a nation to ransom by limiting the coal supply to a national keypoint structure.
The DA is also aware of reports of the breakdown of some power generation units over the weekend. This, according to Eskom, means that the electricity grid will be “severely constrained” with potential blackouts on the table.
The DA also notes that Mzimkhulu Mining is owned by Thema Langa, the brother-in-law of Eskom board chairperson, Jabu Mabuza. Further to our concerns with regards to TASA, the DA would like assurance that the conflict of interest between the two companies and two individuals has been declared to the public.
The DA looks forward to Minister Mantashe resolving these issues with the immediacy and urgency it deserves.