PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa says the government will make sure that the negotiations for the R133 billion for the transition from coal to clean energy were without any conditions.
Ramaphosa said they would make sure that the country was never lumped with conditions that debilitated the country’s developmental initiatives.
“We will seek to have negotiations in a very transparent manner. The last is to be lumped with conditions that are to restrict our ability and continue with our developmental path,” he said.
“We are absolutely going to be very careful. We will bring in a team of people from the private and public sectors to ensure the agreements are beneficial to us. We will ensure that there is quite a lot of transparency in these negotiations,” he said when responding to questions in the National Assembly.
Ramaphosa told MPs that the financial support would take various instruments, ranging from grants to concessional loans with very low interest rates.
He said the funding would be mobilised in the next three to five years with a view to longer term engagement if agreement was reached.
“This is an initial commitment which may increase if further funds are found.”
The president stressed that the government would not accept any unfavourable terms if the financing arrangement could impact on the public fiscus.
Ramaphosa also said one of the things they would look at during the transition from coal to clean energy was how Eskom, when it decommissioned power stations in Mpumalanga and Limpopo, would repurpose them for other uses.
“There is a project plan. It also needs to look at workers and communities and new opportunities that come with the renewable energy future.”
The president also told the MPs that Eskom was too big to fail, and solutions would be found to address its problems.
He said Eskom was carrying the biggest debt burden of all the state-owned entities (SOEs).
“This is debt that accumulated over a number of years but also accumulated as we had overrun of costs with new builds that we have had. We are now stuck with this debt,” he said.
“We all agree that Eskom is too big to fail because a failing Eskom will be catastrophic for our economy and for the lives of our people all round, and therefore Eskom is our collective problem that we have to solve,” he said.
Ramaphosa also said it did not help to sit and not do anything about the troubled entity.
“It also does not help to be on podiums and be accusatory and accusing people all the time. What we should be doing is to find ways of addressing the problems.”
He told the MPs that entities outside government – business, trade union and non-governmental organisations - have been discussing how best Eskom debt could be dealt with.
“Government on its part has been working with Eskom and those entities to try to find a way of dealing with the debt,” he said, adding that they were looking at all proposals.
The president also said Eskom has on its own been forward looking.
“It is repositioning itself and repurposing itself whereas in the past Eskom was stuck as a coal-fired generation company,” he said about the entity considering entering the renewable energy space.
“That is a forward-looking company that we need to support. We need to support the leadership as they try to solve the many problems that they face.
“Eskom, yes, is the biggest risk our country faces and we have to collectively find a solution to address this risk,” he told the MPs.