Home South African President Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa owes Eskom execs support

President Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa owes Eskom execs support


President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans owe their support to the Eskom board and management as they work to turn the utility around despite failing to keep the lights on all the time.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans owe their support to the Eskom board and management as they work to turn the utility around and despite its failure to keep the lights on all the time. Picture: African News Agency (ANA) archives

PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans owe their support to the Eskom board and management as they work to turn the utility around and despite its failure to keep the lights on all the time.

Hours after Ramaphosa made these remarks in his weekly newsletter on Monday, Eskom urged the public to reduce the consumption of electricity as the power system was severely constrained due to the delay in returning units to service and the loss of multiple generation units.

Throwing his weight behind the Eskom board and executive, Ramaphosa again blamed policy missteps and the impact of state capture over many years for the regular load shedding in the country.

However, he did not mention what role he had played when then President Jacob Zuma assigned him the responsibility of leading the Eskom war room in 2015.

Zuma tasked Ramaphosa with overseeing the turnaround of Eskom in what was labelled the “war room,” made up of the Departments of Energy, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Public Enterprises, National Treasury, Economic Development, Water and Sanitation and Eskom, as well as technical officials. Their role was to look into Eskom’s short- and long-term energy challenges.

But in his newsletter he said: “This (policy missteps and the impact of state capture) is the situation that we have confronted since the start of this administration and that we are all working to fix. In doing so, we owe the board and management of Eskom our full support as they work to turn the utility around. They have to keep the lights on while rebuilding Eskom as a viable entity that fulfils its developmental mandate as a state owned enterprise, and positioning it for a just energy transition,” he said.

“It may be difficult to imagine a future without load shedding, but the steps we are taking now will ensure that we get there. The process of structural reform this administration embarked on in 2018 will have a far-reaching impact on the South African energy landscape, even if the changes will take time to bear fruit,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the existing power stations were not maintained properly for years particularly as these plants were made to ‘run harder’ to meet the country’s energy needs.

“We are doing everything in our means to ensure that, like state capture, it soon becomes a thing of the past. It is difficult to expect the millions of South Africans grappling with the inconvenience and hardship caused by intermittent power outages to remain patient as we resolve these longstanding challenges. It is difficult to convince them, as they sit in the dark, that we are making progress towards a secure and reliable supply of electricity. But the reality is that the energy landscape is being transformed, the problems at Eskom are steadily being addressed and substantial new energy generation capacity is being built. It is difficult and unacceptable for South Africans to endure load-shedding.”

Responding to Ramaphosa’s claims, former Eskom chief executive Matshela Koko, said the president’s remarks were based on gossip not facts.

“President Ramaphosa is addressing the nation based on gossip rather than on audited financial statements of Eskom. The statement by President Ramaphosa that State Capture and lack of planned maintenance are responsible for current load-shedding incidents is not based on the audited Eskom financial statements and it is regrettable.

“The audited Eskom financial statements clearly show that the increase in planned maintenance in 2015 was sustained until 2018 when we left Eskom. As a matter of fact the planned maintenance in 2016 was 13% and it remains the highest in the recorded history of Eskom.”

Koko said the audited financial statements also show that in the years considered to be the peak of State Capture, Eskom kept the lights on without fail and without burning diesel.

“In 2017 Eskom only used 10 million litres of diesel in a year compared to the current 48.5 million litres in a month.”

Energy Economist Lungile Mashele said: “I am glad the President has taken responsibility for Government failures over the last 20 years, however this will not protect South Africans from a cold and dark winter in 2022. South Africans need action. The projects mentioned by the president will only come online in 2024 provided that no legal challenges or procurement delays are experienced. Projects from RMIPPPP and Round 5 are yet to close despite bid submission being in 2021. A collaborative approach between the ministries of energy, public enterprises, environment, treasury and Eskom is required – with regular feedback and accountability. We saw it during the early days of Covid-19 with ministries working together to deliver promptly.”

Meanwhile Eskom board member Busisiwe Mavuso came under fire when she appeared to be blaming the ANC for problems confronting the power utility when the board and management appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. After exchanging words with Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa, Mavuso stormed out.

In a statement yesterday, Eskom did not address the issue, only saying they had constructive and robust engagements with Scopa during its follow-up oversight visit to some of Eskom’s facilities undertaken from April 20 – 22.

“During their visit to Medupi, Kusile power stations and Megawatt Park, Scopa called on Eskom to account for progress and expenditure on the new build program and exhorted Management to redouble its efforts to minimise load shedding. Given Scopa’s oversight role, Eskom appreciates and understands the committee’s input as a continuation of its role to safeguard the public purse and assets.

“Eskom will continue to implement Scopa’s recommendations to demonstrate the entity’s commitment to operational effectiveness and fiscal prudence and to ensure that we can deliver on our mandate.”

Cape Times

Previous articleOfficials ‘to be held accountable’ over soldiers’ rotten food
Next articleSA Navy to name new state-of-the-art warship after King Sekhukhune