MONSTERLUS – The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Monsterlus, Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality Ward 20 have suspended an Eskom Rotek/Silimela power generating project. The ongoing suspension started since 11 September when EFF shut down the project site office in Monsterlus, complaining about lack of local employment and local business empowerment. The project started in 2016 by Eskom Rotek Industries to install power lines from Marble Hall to develop a power station in Roosenekaal. As a result, twenty-five people were arrested on Friday 23 October and charged with public violence. They appeared before the Nebo Magistrate’s Court on Monday 26 October and were granted R500-00 bail.
They will appear again on 4 December 2020. The EFF submitted a memorandum of demands to Eskom Rotek/Silimela on 22 September 2020. Among their complaints, the party stated that the project was running without Community Liaison Officer (CLO) for the past three years, on which they demanded that an immediate appointed of a local resident in the position. They were also demanding the appointment of the Project Steering Committee (PSC) that was not available for the past two years. The party stated in the memorandum that the local employment recruitment procurement is not viable and considering appointing outsiders. Eskom Rotek/Silimela was given seven days to respond and according to the EFF, the company couldn’t come back to them since the handing-over of the memorandum.
According to EFF Chairperson in Elias Motsoaledi Local Municipality Ward 20, Thabo Skhosana, the project management is sidelining locals in the project and considering appointing people from outside the area. “We suspended the project after an outcry by local residents that the company is hiring people from Kwa-Zulu Natal, Eastern Cape and Venda to do general work. Local businesses are also not considered and only companies coming from Gauteng are appointed in the project for sub-construction work,” he said. Skhosana, who is among the 25 arrested protesters, said their detention was an intimidation to their concerned raised against nepotism in the project. “We were given a protection order not go near the site office, but we will find other ways to continue with the demonstration until the community’s demands are met,” he said. Attempts to reach Eskom Rotek Safety and Resilience Officer, Godfrey Rambuda bore no fruits as he didn’t answer his cellphone. Rambuda also couldn’t respond to text messages sent by the Sekhukhune Times Newspaper for a comment.