House Chairperson, I rise today to tell you that we, the DA, will support this report as it was a true reflection of what transpired in the meetings I attended.
I also rise to inform this House of a travesty of justice of one company in South Africa that is using 7,5% of the total electricity generated in this country, but that only employs 3 000 people and contributes a minuscule 0,01% to the gross domestic product. This company has a secret deal with Eskom called a "special pricing agreement". It is reflected in Eskom's annual report as "embedded derivatives". These terms are just fancy words for theft from the poor and working classes. They are fancy words for ordinary South Africans subsidising an international conglomerate, BHP Billiton, to the tune of R4,8 billion a year - exported from this country in the form of aluminium ingots.
The company consumes cheap electricity, artificially secured through special pricing agreements; imports ore and exports the finished product to Australia, with little or no upstream or downstream benefit for South Africa. The smelters were built when there was an excess of electricity and Eskom wants us to believe that we are stuck with these contracts for another 25 years. Eskom also wants us to believe they were inherited from the apartheid era, pre 1994.
I asked questions in Parliament about this. The answers revealed that some of the deals were signed as late as 2003. Remember that South Africa was hit by blackouts throughout 2008, costing us billions of rands in foregone revenue. Do you want to tell me, Mr House Chairperson, that a company like Eskom and Mr Mick Davis, who signed the pre-1994 contract with BHP Billiton, did not know in advance that we were heading for an electricity supply shortage?
The next question is why someone would effectively sign South Africa's death warrant and why this person took up a director's post at BHP Billiton shortly afterwards? It just does not make sense! The crux of the matter is this: At the time when I revealed this secret Eskom report, the company was paying 13 cents per kilowatt hour or per unit while we are paying an average of 60c/Kwh. The information I have now is that BHP Billiton is paying 8,8c/Kwh to 10c/Kwh - as the aluminium price is at an all-time low - while we are paying 120c/Kwh!
How does this government and this Parliament, after hearing all these facts, still allow this to happen? At the time, Mr Patrick Craven of the Congress of South African Trade Unions said: "We will fight this injustice till the end!" Well, Mr Craven, I have news for you: Nothing happened! I wonder who really is representing the poor and the workers here, in this case. [Interjections.] Why should we continue to subsidise this international conglomerate in making a huge profit on the altar of our suffering? This is worse than the arms deal. In the case of the arms deal, at least only some selected politicians got kickbacks. Here, we can't figure out any benefit to anybody! [Interjections.] [Applause.]