File picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency (ANA).
File picture: Bhekikhaya Mabaso/African News Agency (ANA).

De Ruyter, energy war room: Cabinet makes Eskom top priority

By MAYIBONGWE MAQHINA and ANA Time of article published Dec 18, 2019

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Cape Town - The final Cabinet meeting of the year mandated Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to negotiate with Andre de Ruyter to take up his duties as the new Eskom chief executive earlier than the set date.

De Ruyter, currently chief executive of packaging firm Nampak, was set to take up the Eskom top job on January 15. Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu briefed journalists on Tuesday on the outcomes of the Cabinet meeting held on December 13.

“The Cabinet fully supports all efforts meant to ensure electricity supply certainty in our country.

“In this regard, the Cabinet has mandated Gordhan to negotiate with De Ruyter to commence his duties earlier than the set date,” said Mthembu.

“De Ruyter, together with his management team, will immediately deal with the concerning issues of governance, lack of financial management as well as stabilising the operations at Eskom. This includes dealing with the huge backlog of maintenance of the ageing fleet of their power stations, and the structural defects in Medupi and Kusile power stations.”

Mthembu also announced that Deputy President David Mabuza would convene a resuscitated energy war room comprising Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and Gordhan.

Eskom said the probability of scheduled power cuts was low for the rest of the week. “Eskom will continue to use emergency reserves to supplement capacity if necessary over this period,” the power utility said.

It added that its technical teams would continue to work throughout the Christmas holidays to reduce the magnitude of unplanned breakdowns to below 9500MW.

Consumers should reduce consumption to help lower the need for load shedding, Eskom added.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet also said it would make a final decision on the recommendations of the task team on the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project (GFIP) in the new year.

Mthembu said the delay in making a decision was based on discussions on mechanisms to be used to pay for the upkeep of e-tolls. “The issue is what mechanism would you like to use to pay for the upkeep of e-toll or GFIP Would you like people to pay or would you like some other mechanism to be put in place?”

Ramaphosa previously tasked Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni and Gauteng Premier David Makhura to look into the issue of e-tolls in Gauteng.

“As we expanded the mandate of the department to look into the matters of Gauteng e-tolls, we also agreed to improve our road infrastructure throughout the country That is why it has taken some time.”

He added he was confident that when the Cabinet met in the new year, it would finalise the matter.

Political Bureau

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