SANDF military army Eskom

Photo: Luke Daniel –

Experts concerned Eskom could “deploy the army” to protect themselves

Worried that workers could sabotage generational units after retrenchments, it’s reported that Eskom could send in the troops on its own turf.

SANDF military army Eskom

Photo: Luke Daniel –

Reports have surfaced on Friday that Eskom executives are considering employing the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) to protect their plants ahead of potential mass retrenchments.

The startling claims were made in the Mail and Guardian, who suggest that chief executive Phakamani Hadebe wanted to engage with the army’s legal department to see if this situation could be handled by military personnel.

Experts are unconvinced

After hearing about these developments, we spoke to senior energy analyst Ted Blom. He told us that Eskom “may not have the mandate” to deploy the National Defence Force in this manner, but confirmed it was entirely possible that the plans could go ahead:

“It could be a cheaper solution for Eskom, but I doubt they have the mandate to authorise it. However, we also have a president who is not sticking to a mandate – his decision to put Eskom under curatorship with a chief re-organisation officer proves that.”

“The thing is, protecting key national points of interest is in the mandate of SANDF. It’s their job to secure these places. But of course, what the army cannot do is act against its people. These suggestions aren’t surprising, we’ve already heard the DA want to deploy soldiers in Cape Town.”

Ted Blom

Eskom “considering” army protection

Blom was referring to the opposition party’s repeated calls to send the army to gang-ridden crime hotspots in the Cape. Meanwhile, Numsa Spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi expressed his deepest concerns about these latest revelations, telling Radio 702 that such actions would be “disturbing”:

“It seems this is based on an assumption that workers are going to embark on some kind of sabotage or acts of violence in response to the fact that retrenchments are on the cards at Eskom.”

“We find it extremely disturbing – if it is true – that this is how Eskom’s management feel and this is their attitude, particularity because there is absolutely no evidence to back up such an assertion.”

Phakamile Hlubi

“Sabotage” blamed for Eskom’s load shedding

Recent bouts of load shedding have flushed Eskom’s reputation down the toilet. A particularly gruesome period last week saw South Africa reach the unprecedented levels of Stage 4 load shedding. The utility’s executives blamed widespread sabotage from their workers, who expressed displeasure towards a new strategy for Eskom.

Cyril Ramaphosa made it clear during SONA he wants to “unbundle” Eskom into three separate departments. However, many see this as a first step towards privatisation, and the lights suspiciously went down on the power grid just a few days later. Whatever the logic, sending in the troops on your own turf reflects a terrible state of affairs.