Former Eskom executive Matshela Koko. Picture: Bheki Radebe/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - Former Eskom acting chief executive officer Matshela Koko said he did not buy the idea that the state-owned power utility’s implementation of stage 6 load shedding was caused by wet coal.

“Wet coal is an excuse,” Koko told Independent Media on Wednesday.

He said it was “very” clear that the leadership of Eskom, at board and executive levels was, “very” inexperienced. 

“There is a big disconnect between engineers and the leadership,” he said.

Koko insisted that South Africans were suffering long hours of darkness because of the lack of maintenance at the country’s power stations. 

He also told SABC News on Wednesday that under his and his predecessor Brian Molefe’s helm, Eskom power stations ran smoothly. He said when Molefe took over as CEO in 2015 he stopped the load shedding that had started in 2007. 

“We did not have excuses, Brian Molefe came in and he never complained about the lack of maintenance, he never blamed the past leadership,” he said. 

He said he and Molefe introduced a maintenance budget and successfully dealt with years of “legacy” of a maintenance bottleneck.

“We said to ourselves that we must maintain the plants, let us not use diesel to keep the lights on and we must not load shed, and we did that successfully,” he said.

He said the usage of diesel was expensive.

He said under their leadership the load shedding stopped, and that it only started in November 2017.

“Load shedding is extremely painful because in August 2015 we had no Medupi, Ingula and Kusile. The demand was high but there was no load shedding, there was not even stage 1 load shedding.

“Today we have the benefit of Medupi, Ingula and Kusile but the demand is low and we are 6000 megawatts short to stabilise the state,” he said. 

He said the engineers that operated under him and Molefe were still the same people who were still employed to maintain the country’s power stations today. 

“Load shedding started in 2007. August 8 2015 the load shedding stopped, and it started again in November 2017.

“It was not there in 2016 and the demand was high but there was no load shedding. The same people are the same engineers,” he said.

Politics Bureau