DA leader John Steenhuisen calls for privatization of Eskom and to allow competition
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Johannesburg - DA interim leader John Steenhuisen has called on the government to speed up the process of splitting Eskom into separate entities in order to save it from a complete collapse.
Addressing elderly people at the Woodgrove Retirement Village in Pietermaritzburg on Tuesday morning, Steenhuisen also said the state owned power utility should be partly privatised because the government had no role in running a business.
He visited the KwaZulu-Natal capital city to campaign for the Ward 25 by-election, which is expected to take place on March 18.
“Don't think by putting more public money into it, it is going to be fixed. It will never happen because the model is wrong,” he said.
“We must break Eskom up into two separate entities and we have to allow the private sector into the market so that they can start competing, so that we are not a victim of a hostage situation where we have a single generator of electricity in the country,” he said.
He said municipalities should also be allowed to procure electricity directly from independent power producers.
“That will keep the factories on and lights on and keep the economies moving,” he said.
He said it was also “very” easy to deal with escalating debt that Eskom had as the national treasurer had convened an “excellent paper”.
“What about selling 12 of the coal fired power stations, so that you will be able to settle Eskom debt.
“There is still life left in those, and you could turn them into entities that would be able to, for the foreseeable future, provide power to Eskom in a profitable way,” he said.
He said Vietnam was an example, as it once had a similar problem to South Africa of a “massive shortage of electricity”, which affected factories.
“They opened up the sector to independent power producers and to households to supply the grid.
“They now have an oversupply of electricity, and have been able to negotiate the price because there are too many people who can help providing electricity.
“If we allow competition into the industry, we will succeed,” he said.
He also said the government should also sell South African Airways.
“The government should not be running airlines, government should not be running a diamond mine, manufacturing arms and running trains.
“The problem is that this government does a lot of things very badly and very few things very well.
“It needs to do fewer things, and do them excellently, and allow the private sector to do what it is very good at,” he said.