Eskom's woes are expected to worsen following Mabuza's resignation
His resignation came as some in the ANC have called for Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to be reined in for his stewardship of Eskom which earlier, despite promises, has returned to load shedding.
Energy expert Ted Bloem said: “The resignation of Mabuza literally just took Eskom further backward. It’s been a wasted two years of that board and nothing has happened. The real challenge will be for Eskom to keep the lights on, which I highly doubt will happen. I have a suspicion that by Friday we will be having severe load shedding again.”
At the weekend, it emerged that the knives were out for Gordhan after deputy president David Mabuza accused him and the Eskom board of misleading the president over the stability of the power grid. In December, President Cyril Ramaphosa was assured that there would be no load shedding by today (Monday) but over the past few days, the nation has been experiencing rolling blackouts.
On Saturday while delivering the ANC’s annual January 8 statement, Ramaphosa made bold promises on addressing the crisis at Eskom. Ramaphosa promised to strengthen Eskom and said they were addressing the challenges at the power utility.
“There has been nothing done for the reforms which were announced late last year to turnaround the troubled state-owned company. It’s evident that the president lied about a turn-around plan because there is no plan,” Bloem said.
National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union (Nehawu) spokesperson Khaya Xaba said Gordhan and the rest of the Eskom board must resign with immediate effect “for allowing the entity to deteriorate”.
He said the situation with SOEs was so dire that most of them relied on bailouts for survival.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has reiterated its call to have the entire Eskom board disbanded and immediately.
NUM general secretary David Sipunzi said: “We have said it on numerous occasions as the NUM that the current Eskom board was not assisting in resolving the country’s power crisis. It is even worse that the former chairperson goes to an extreme of misleading the state president. This is a total disrespect and should be treated as treason. We are calling for immediate removal of the entire board.”
Brett Herron, Good party secretary-general, said Mabuza’s resignation was more a symbolic act than a step that would significantly change the current electricity supply problems.
“It was an act of loyalty to the president and a symbol of accountability,” Herron said. He said there was a shortage of reliable electricity generation and supply and this is what needs to be addressed urgently. “If Eskom is unable to reliably generate and supply what our nation needs, then we must look to independent power producers (IPPs) to supplement supply.”
“Minister Gwede Mantashe has the mandate to determine the supply source and mix, and he needs to take urgent steps to issue his determination,” he said.
The DA’s shadow minister for Public Enterprises, Ghaleb Cachalia, said: “Bold steps are required to fill the new key roles at board level with the requisite competence at this critical hour. We have repeatedly asked minister Gordhan and the president for a meeting.”@TheCapeArgus