Uncertainty mounts over load shedding, parties pile pressure on Eskom
Johannesburg - Political parties and Parliament are demanding answers from Eskom on the power crisis, with calls for further scrutiny of the billions of rands in bailouts.
The portfolio committee on public enterprises said yesterday it wanted Eskom to urgently appear before MPs and account about the power crisis.
Political parties said Eskom had not given the country an accurate picture of the power crisis.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to face questions on the Eskom crisis in Parliament when he responds to oral questions next week Thursday.
Although the questions relate to the economy and other issues affecting the state, parties can raise questions on Eskom from the floor.
Chairperson of the portfolio committee on public enterprises Khaya Magaxa said yesterday it needed to call Eskom to account for the crisis. He said, despite the statements by Eskom on the state of energy, it wanted answers.
Magaxa said when Eskom appeared before the committee two weeks ago it had not said anything about load shedding.
“They did not say they are anticipating load shedding. Now that there is load shedding we have to call them and account what has happened,” said Magaxa.
He said he would sit down with the secretariat of the committee on Tuesday to draft a letter to Eskom inviting it to Parliament.
He said this was an urgent matter and the meeting should happen soon.
“If it’s an urgent matter we will call them as soon as possible,” said Magaxa.
Business Unity South Africa also entered the fray, calling for stability in the national grid.
Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza admitted in Parliament two weeks ago that businesses lose billions of rands during load shedding.
South Africa has been plunged into darkness in the past few days despite Eskom saying it was trying to minimise the impact.
The construction costs of Eskom’s coal-fired Medupi and Kusile power plants have more than doubled over the past 10 years.
The DA, IFP and African Christian Democratic Party said they wanted to see action and an end to blackouts as they were crippling the economy.
Natasha Mazzone of the DA said she wanted Parliament to summon Eskom bosses to Parliament.
“The floundering, confusion and dishonesty can no longer continue. The public needs clear answers from Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan on the state of affairs at the beleaguered power utility,” said Mazzone.
The IFP said it was concerned that load shedding would have an impact on small, medium and micro enterprises.
MPs also raised concern this week that Eskom had affected pupils who were writing their examinations on computer studies and information technology.
Eskom has been sitting on a massive debt of R450billion for the past few years.
Ramaphosa is expected to release a paper on the unbundling of Eskom in the next few days.
The energy crisis comes after Minerals and Energy Minister
Gwede Mantashe released the Integrated Resource Plan which talks about the energy mix of the country for the next few years. Mantashe insisted that coal would remain part of the energy mix.
He said despite some of the coal power stations being old, not all of them would be decommissioned.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to announce plans on Eskom’s rescue package in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement next week.
National Treasury has already given Eskom a bailout of R59bn. But the power utility needs more cash to stay afloat.
Magaxa said it would be up to the committee to decide what course of action to take when Eskom appears before them.