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Eskom threatens to sue self-powering farmers

By Celani Sikhakhane

Farmers in KwaZulu-Natal are furious with Eskom over the utility’s plans to take legal action against them for producing their own electricity.

They accuse Eskom of threatening the country’s food security by bullying them. However, the farmers are waiting to see where negotiations with Eskom will go before planning further responses.

Most farmers in KZN have resorted to generating their own electricity to continue producing food during load shedding.

Herman de Wet of the Transvaal Agricultural Union in KwaZulu-Natal said that if Eskom continues with its plans, farmers won’t have enough power to produce food.

“Look, to produce food we need a lot of electricity for irrigation of plants and other stuff that need us to work out productions. For irrigation only we need 50% of the electricity which Eskom is failing to provide due to loadshedding,” said De Wet.

The developing farmers who are the beneficiaries of land restitution are suffering the most. Few of these farmers have enough resources to come up with alternative sources of power generation.

Others have complained that they are facing a huge debt of electricity due to the fault of previous owners while the loadshedding is destroying their businesses.

Deputy president of KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (Kwanulu), Peter John Hassard, said that they have decided to engage Eskom over this because there are going to be more crises.

“As we speak, the CEO is in talks with Eskom to come up with a lasting solution.

We proposed that farmers should be exempted from loadshedding but Eskom’s line of argument is that it won’t be possible since our lines are linked to those of the communities we are living with. But we are still in talks with them,” said Hassard.

Kwanulu president, Angus Williamson, said that as the production from farmers declined due to loadshedding, the demand is getting higher.

He said the government needs to come up with solutions to bring down food prices because farmers are facing a serious situation.

Farmers in KZN produce food such as sugar, crops, fruit and meat.

Eskom has not responded to a request for comment.

Pictured above: KZN farmers are at loggerheads with Eskom over its plans to block the from producing their own electricity

Image source: Farmers Weekly