Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters

CAPE TOWN - National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise has turned down a DA request for a debate of national importance on Eskom’s financial crisis, the party said on Sunday.

''It cannot be business as usual for this 6th Parliament while the debt-ridden Eskom continues to be engulfed in corruption and mismanagement, posing the biggest single threat to our country’s economy,'' DA spokeswoman Natasha Mazzone said.

South Africans were already burdened with rising electricity costs and a flatlining economy, and were now expected to pay for years of state capture, corruption, and poor management that had led to Eskom being over R400 billion in debt, she said.

''Eskom has kept our economy down on its knees; with unacceptably high levels of unemployment and job losses due to episodes of rolling blackouts we cannot let the Eskom threat to our economy continue unabated.''

The utility was the single biggest threat to the economy, and therefore Parliament had to use its mandate to perform oversight and debate the true extent of the rot at Eskom, Mazzone said.

The DA had long called for Eskom’s anti-competitive stranglehold on electricity production and distribution to be broken. 

The DA had a plan to stabilise and secure South Africa’s power supply. This was contained in the DA's Cheaper Energy Bill which sought to break Eskom into two separate entities – a generation and a distribution entity.

This would reduce the cost of electricity, bring about much-needed competition, and ensure that South Africa would shed a big chunk of Eskom’s debt.

There was no straightforward or easy way of dealing with the Eskom crisis, but a debate on possible ways to rescue the power utility could not wait for ''a time of our convenience'' or else it would be too late, Mazzone said.

African News Agency (ANA)