electricianThe Independent Municipal and Allied Trade Union (IMATU) broadly welcomes the outcomes of the Civil Society Conference on the Electricity Crisis, held this week in Johannesburg.

“IMATU represents employees in the local government sector throughout South Africa. As a major stakeholder in local government, we are committed to the realisation of an efficient and reliable energy sector and for this reason it is imperative that we are part of the solution to the current electricity crisis. IMATU strongly believes that organised labour must be part of the immediate strategies to address electricity generation challenges as well as the broader energy concerns regarding transmission and distribution,” stated IMATU Research and Policy Analyst, Anja Muller-Deibicht.

This conference enabled participants to share historical knowledge of the energy sector, take stock of the current crisis and propose immediate and medium-term interventions which will rectify the current challenges and provide energy security going forward.

“Municipalities are constitutionally mandated to provide basic services in a sustainable manner, yet it is clear that many communities are experiencing intermittent, uneven and at times poor service delivery. Focus needs to be placed on tackling the serious issues regarding challenges in the county’s distribution network, aging infrastructure, lack of infrastructure maintenance and political interference in the administrative running of municipalities. Furthermore, investment in clean renewable energy by the local government sector will result in increased electricity generation, increased revenue generation and cross subsidisation, further training and capacity building within municipalities,” stated Muller-Deibicht.

The recent Auditor General’s 2013/14 local government audit report again confirmed the unacceptably high levels of wasteful and irregular expenditure that occurs in local government on an annual basis. This money should be spent on improving municipal infrastructure and providing sustainable service delivery in both the electricity distribution sector as well as the roll out of basic services.

“We believe great strides have been made to electrify South African homes however this good work must be supported by effective maintenance, adequate infrastructure development, appropriate skills training and accountability,” concluded Muller-Deibicht.