Today’s non-announcement by the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, confirmed the worst about Eskom and South Africa’s energy landscape. Gordhan has acceded to the fact that the ANC government does not have the political will to fix the broken power entity which has been hollowed out by decades of mismanagement and corruption.
The announcement that Eskom will not be restructured or unbundled to make it economically viable, proves that the ANC has once again placed the interests of their trade unions allies above those of South Africans who desperately need our country to have secure energy supply. What is clear is that this government is more concerned about looking after their electoral prospects by pandering to the unions than they are about keeping the lights on and stemming the jobs bloodbath which will likely follow. This announcement is at odds with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address which once again shows that Ramaphosa is not in charge of the ANC but is led by the different factions which include the unions.
The ANC are unable and unwilling to make the difficult decisions which are needed to resuscitate Eskom and South Africa’s future. They have elected not to:
- Tackle the bloated workforce at Eskom with a promise of no retrenchments
- Address the monopolistic nature of Eskom through a process of privatisation
- Halt the cost overruns at Medupi and Kusile, which have doubled in costs and time delays due to corruption and mismanagement
Furthermore, the DA has it on good authority that Eskom have been using a combination of its CAPEX (capital expenditure) budget and a Chinese loan to pay salaries for the month of March. It is now unclear how they intend April salaries considering the financial hole that Eskom is in. This means that money that was designed for maintenance of the power utility has now been diverted to salaries. This will no doubt mean a complete collapse of the grid which will be disastrous for South Africa and the economy. However, the ANC is prepared to plug these gaping holes in an unsustainable manner, just to get to the May 8th Elections before allowing the system to truly descend into dysfunction. This is shameless election ploy which will leave this country in the worst state since the dawn of democracy.
What is clear is that the ANC has no coherent plan to resolve the problems at Eskom. They are also unprepared to make difficult decisions to turn the entity around and will employ temporary measures to delay the inevitable and get through the election period by hiding the truth behind the crisis. They have now blown the CAPEX budget which was designed for maintenance and are burning through diesel which they have procured at double the market price; just to fool South Africans into oblivion until May the 8th.
To add insult to injury, Minister Gordhan called on South Africans who have been on the receiving end of the Eskom crisis to take ‘collective responsibility’ and essentially pay the price for an entity which has been destroyed by mismanagement and corruption by the ANC government and corrupt officials who siphoned money through bogus coal contracts.
The DA has long challenged President Ramaphosa and the ANC government to adopt the solutions we have proposed to provide long term solutions to South Africa’s energy crisis which is a ticking time bomb.
Issued by Natasha Mazzone – DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises