Eskom Espionage: Eskom responds to Earthlife, groundWork, and Greenpeace

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Johannesburg, Monday 18 February 2013 – Eskom has sent a reply to Earthlife, groundWork, and Greenpeace regarding the spying that has taken place on these organisations by the infamous ‘Swartberg Intelligence Services’.

However, the personal response made by Eskom’s CEO Brian Dames is totally inappropriate: none of the demands of the affected civil society organisations have been met. The letter does not include any of the facts that Eskom is asked to share. It also misses the announcement of a public apology by Eskom. And instead of sharing the information necessary for a public investigation, Brian Dames announces that they will conduct an internal assessment of Eskom’s wrong-doings.
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Johannesburg, Wednesday 13 February 2013 – Earthlife, groundWork, and Greenpeace have suspended their participation in Eskom’s NGO forum following reports that Eskom contracted Swartberg Intelligence Support Services to spy on the organizations. The organizations have received documents exposing correspondence between Eskom and ‘Swartberg Intelligence Services’.

“Eskom’s shocking move highlights the deep rot within the organisation that takes us back to the dark days of apartheid. If we cannot trust Eskom’s leadership to deal openly with those that are pushing it towards sustainable practices, how can we trust them with such an important asset as our energy provision.  We demand a change of Eskom’s leadership,” said groundWork’s Director Bobby Peek.

According to Michael O’Brien Onyeka, Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director: “Eskom has demonstrated that it is a completely unscrupulous organization both in terms of its energy choices and ethical standards. Spying on civil society cuts against the essence of South Africa’s democratic principles, is a violation of basic human rights and a move to silence civil society. Greenpeace demands an urgent independent investigation into the matter. We clearly cannot trust Eskom to police itself!”

“Eskom has no right to spy upon citizens of this country, and such activities belong in our past with the dread of the Bureau of State Security and the National Intelligence Service. A significant part of our liberation was the abolition of such heinous acts and entities, and Eskom owes this country an apology for its disgraceful behaviour. While Earthlife Africa Johannesburg disagrees with Eskom’s dirty generation choices and anti-poor tariff increases, we are entitled to such democratic, legitimate dissent. There is a little thing called the Constitution, we suggest Eskom read it,” stated Tristen Taylor, Project Coordinator of Earthlife Africa Jhb.

The civil society groups demand an independent investigation to block what is a classic case of oppression of civil society by big business. Until such outcome of the investigation is made public, the organizations will temporarily withdraw from Eskom’s Stakeholder forum and await:

  • A public apology from Eskom
  • Confirmation of the  independent nature of the investigation
  • A satisfactory hand-over of all confidential information and reports from Swartberg Intelligence Services to the three organisations
  • A formal statement by Eskom at the end of the investigation to be publicly released
  • NERSA and the Public Protector to launch their own investigations to Eskom’s espionage

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