On the 6th of December 2018, Public Enterprise Minister, Pravin Gordhan, briefed the nation as both the Minister and the Accounting Officer of the utility on the state of Eskom with little or no assurance that there is hope for immediate turnaround.
A briefing that was supposed to be handled by the responsible and accounting officers of Eskom turned into a one-man show with the responsible heads (CEO & COO) seated at far ends of the table. This was the opportunity for Eskom to give the urgently required confidence that things will return back to normality soon or will remain like this for a particular period, but it was disappointingly no to be.
The scene observed in that briefing is untenable and ought not to be experienced again. It gave us an impression that the Minister has absolutely lost confidence in the executive.
During the frustrating periods of load shedding our members who are Eskom employees in particular face threats and backlash from the South Africans at large for the failure of Eskom in keeping the lights burning. Most of these workers have to hide their work uniforms or anything that shows that they work for Eskom for their safety.
With all the public frustration and worker fears, the Chairman of Eskom Board boldly tells the nation in a national television that Eskom problems are caused by all South Africans.
The NUM views this statement as being very reckless and calls on the Chairman of the board to retract it as it might have unintended consequences to both the employees and those at the helm of the utility.
There are two major problems that Eskom is currently faced with, dire financial state, and a shortage of Electricity. There is no way that the general public caused or contributed to the problems mentioned above and we, therefore, call on Mr. Mabuza to retract the statement.
The Chairman further correctly responded to the question of IPPs by indicating that the board doesn’t determine the prices or even get involved in the selection of these power producers. The Minister must have missed this response from the Chairman when he made a call to the public to come up with ideas on where to find the money.
As the NUM, we wish to inform the Minister that the difference between the revenue and expenditure that he was referring to comes from amongst many areas the Power Purchase Agreements forced to Eskom by the Department of Energy. This comes as Eskom loses in excess of R1.40 for every kilowatt hour that it pays for from the IPPs which amounted to more than R10 billion lost in the last financial year. A quick logical idea to save Eskom and to realize immediate positive change is to scrap the current Power Purchase Agreements with IPPs or re-negotiate the prices of to be not more than the least production cost at Eskom.
We reaffirm our view as the NUM that Eskom is being privatized and regressing as long as it gets forced to purchase electricity at very ridiculous prices that it can’t even negotiate let alone affording at the expense of the general populace for the largely foreign-owned private companies with absolutely no industrialization prospects, it continues being privatized!!!
On a closing note to both the Board Chair and Minister, there are standard terms that are used which are less confusing in the energy space. For the Board Chair, it’s a kilowatt per hour not megawatt per hour and to the Minister its stage two load shedding not level two. This will make the audience follow the flow of the briefing with ease in the promised future.
For more information, please contact:
Soso Fisa: NUM Western Cape Regional Secretary: 073 159 5213
The National Union of Mineworkers
7 Rissik Street
Tel: 011 377 2111
Cell: 083 809 3257