Over 50 000 workers from unions and the country’s major State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) will down tools against privatisation at the beginning of next year. 

According to SABC News, The National Union of Metal Workers South Africa (NUMSA), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and their affiliated unions are among those who will strike.

Unions against privatisation of SOE’s 

NUMSA President, Andrew Chirwa, made the announcement at their central executive meeting at Newtown in Johannesburg on Thursday 12 December 2019. 

“This is beyond Eskom and when we mobilise, we are working with NUM. We are engaging together as we all have an interest in saving Eskom as one of the State-Owned Enterprises,” said Chirwa. 

“In the process of section 77 which we are applying for, all SOEs together with SAFTU will defend it, that will be massive. You are talking about all workers in SAA, we are talking about workers in Eskom,” said Chirwa. 

“On the street alone we are talking about over 50 000 workers,” he added. 

Privatisation good or bad? 

In a sit-down interview, Senior Lecturer at the Wits School of Economic and Business, Lumkile Monde said that we as a country should privatise state-owned enterprises.  

“The South African government owns about 41% of the economy. We have challenges across many areas of our economy. The majority of South Africans are not coping to live because of costs, like vat increases,” said Monde. 

“The only way for us to relieve the state is to sell some of the assets to improve the financial position of South Africa,” he added. 

Chartered Accountant and Analyst, Khaya Sithole said the bigger issue is knowing what kind of role we want the state to play.  

“The state has to have a role in some economic sectors, particularly if you look at Eskom. No private player would ever have the capacity to run an institution of that nature,” said Sithole.  

“The reason we ended up with the conversation of privatisation being so amplified in society is that the SOEs in their current form are not performing. My argument is that it’s not privatisaion that we seek, but profitability of these SOEs because if they were profitable, we wouldn’t have this problem,” said Sithole.  

Sithole concluded with the question: “Can we reach that profitability without some kind of private-sector intervention and what form of intervention do we need?” 

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Presh JM Reporter

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