Former Eskom Acting CEO Matshela Koko. Picture: Bheki Radebe/African News Agency (ANA)
Former Eskom head of generation Matshela Koko, who is now consulting for several African countries, is questioning how the embattled power utility can fail to meet the demand for electricity.

Koko left Eskom after an inquiry into irregular contracts linked to the Gupta family.

In the light of recent episodes of load shedding, Koko this week told The Sunday Independent that something was amiss with Eskom failing to supply power during plant breakdowns and planned maintenance.

In November, Eskom reportedly shut down 11 power stations which were due for major maintenance because of a lack of funds to fix them. 

According to Koko, Eskom delayed the maintenance process because the utility planned to spend R200 billion on Independent Power Producers (IPP).

“Think about it. You are saying you put aside R11.5bn for maintenance and you said to the public 59 units are due for maintenance, and you prioritise them. So money is not a problem, and the time to do maintenance is not a problem either, because you’ve got a 33% reserve margin. You can't say I put aside R11.5bn to do maintenance but don't have time to do it because you've got enough reserve to take off units and repair them,” said Koko, who is the founder of Matshela Energy.

“On Tuesday, Eskom was running six emergency generators because of the shortage of plants. And it does not make sense that on the 15th (of January) you run six emergency generators and you are not seeking that optional capacity.

"But I also know that Eskom has shut units at Komati, Hendrina and Grootvlei, and those are cheaper than generators. Why would Eskom shut down cheaper units then replace them on an almost daily basis with expensive generators?”

But energy expert Chris Yelland dismissed Koko's proposed solutions as being part of an agenda. 

“He is the discredited former head of generation and former CEO of Eskom who resigned in disgrace rather than face extremely serious charges against him, including lying to Parliament and a deplorable role in the Tegeta scandal. I would suggest that Mr Koko desist from his misplaced and unsolicited advice to Eskom, move on and concentrate on preparing for the very serious legal charges he is likely to face in due course,” said Yelland.

However, Koko said he left Eskom after he refused to sign off on IPP agreements.

“I refused to sign the IPP, and I was very difficult with the money. Everybody knows my position with the coal miners. The coal price per ton in the previous 10 years increased by 17% year-on-year, and in my tenure it was reduced to 3.5%. My refusal to sign IPP cost me the job,” said Koko.

Eskom deputy spokesperson Dikatso Mothae declined to comment on Koko’s claims about the utility.

Sunday Independent