Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has warned that the problems at Eskom ran far deeper than money. File picture: Reuters/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo

Johannesburg - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has warned that the problems at Eskom ran far deeper than money.

This after opposition MPs blasted him and the government for the R59 billion bailout to Eskom following the approval of the Special Appropriations Bill by the National Assembly on Tuesday. Mboweni said the issues at Eskom were complex and required tough solutions.

“Some of the members have stood here and said Eskom this, Eskom that. Eskom is a business and is run by people. One of the things we must do is to appoint the right people. The problem at Eskom is not just finances.”

Chairperson of the standing committee on appropriations Sfiso Buthelezi said the bailout was not a blank cheque and the situation cannot be allowed to continue. Eskom has a debt of R440bn and requires government bailouts to stay afloat.

It told Parliament three weeks ago that it expected to suffer a loss of R21bn next year.

This comes after another loss of R21bn in the past financial year.

The power utility is also facing delays in the completion of Medupi and Kusile power plants. Eskom said in Parliament that the costs for the two power plants had more than doubled since construction began in 2008.

Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza said the costs of Medupi had been below R70bn during construction phase, but have now ballooned to more than R165bn. The same happened at Kusile with costs initially at less than R65bn, but now sitting at R165bn. Cope deputy leader Willie Madisha said the country faced a serious energy crisis.

He said Eskom was sitting on a huge debt and had also admitted that a third of its infrastructure was broken.

Floyd Shivambu of the EFF said the government had injected more than R100bn in the past few years, but Eskom has not yet turned the corner.

He called on the government not to unbundle the crisis-ridden Eskom.

Denis Joseph of the DA said the R59bn was not a blank cheque to Eskom.

He said the standing committee on appropriations must hold the Eskom board accountable for the bailout.

He said during the oversight visit to Eskom's Megawatt Park offices in Sunninghill, north of Joburg, last week they witnesses serious problems at the power utility.

Nqaba Kwankwa of the UDM said the trade unions had every right to be afraid of the unbundling of Eskom. He said this could lead to privatisation.

Mboweni also warned that those who owe Eskom must start paying it. Municipalities owe Eskom R25bn.

Mboweni said households who owe Eskom must also pay. He said MPs must mobilise their communities and urge them to pay what is due to Eskom.

Political Bureau