Pretoria News / 15 February 2019, 06:42am / Siyabonga Mkhwanazi and Mary Jane Mphahlele
PRESIDENT Cyril Ramaphosa has set up a special Cabinet committee to deal with the Eskom crisis - and it will address the problem on a daily basis.
Ramaphosa also denied claims by some opposition parties and trade unions that the splitting of Eskom into three entities would lead to privatisation.
The president also denied claims by Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota that he was a spy and had sold out activists during a trial in the 1970s.
Ramaphosa said that when he was arrested by the security police in 1974, they wanted him to give evidence against his comrades in the Black Consciousness Movement and he had refused.
“I have never been a spy and I have never worked with the enemy,” Ramaphosa told Parliament yesterday.
The president, who was replying to the debate on his State of the Nation Address, said that there was no silver bullet to the Eskom crisis.
He said Finance Minister Tito Mboweni would make an announcement on the power utility when he delivered his Budget next week.
It has been suggested that Mboweni would announce a financial package for Eskom.
The Department of Public Enterprises told Parliament on Wednesday that the power utility would run out of cash in April.
The National Treasury had in the past described Eskom as a risk to the economy.
Ramaphosa repeated this sentiment, warning that all efforts had to be made to fix the power utility.
Ramaphosa said load shedding had shown its severe impact on businesses and the economy.
He said the splitting of Eskom into three entities would ensure that they generated their own sources of funding.
“Ultimately, the restructuring of Eskom is intended to ensure security of electricity supply for the country, which is critical for investment, growth and jobs,” said Ramaphosa.
“I have constituted a special Cabinet committee on Eskom.
"It will be led by the Deputy President (David Mabuza), consisting of the Minister of Public Enterprises (Pravin Gordhan), Energy (Jeff Radebe), Finance (Mboweni), Transport (Blade Nzimande), Intelligence (Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba) and Police (Bheki Cele) to be seized with the matter of Eskom on a daily basis.
"Also, (it will) provide me with reports daily on what actions need to be taken to secure energy supply,” said Ramaphosa.
He said there was no truth to the claims that the unbundling of Eskom would lead to privatisation.
He had announced last week that Eskom would be split into three entities - generation, distribution and transmission.
Eskom is sitting with a massive debt of R419billion and it needs a huge bailout from the government to stay afloat.
Gordhan also told the portfolio committee on public enterprises on Wednesday that the unbundling of Eskom would not lead to the privatisation of the power utility.
Earlier yesterday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane called on Ramaphosa to instruct municipalities to “name and shame” defaulting consumers, in an effort to help the financially-strained power entity, Eskom.
Maimane was outlining the party’s short, medium and long-term plans to deal with the country’s energy crisis.
“Ramaphosa must instruct municipalities to start a ‘name and shame’ campaign for non-payers of electricity. In short, to release the names of the main offenders that are non-paying to the municipality website and local papers making sure communities know who is skipping on payment.
“This would be similar to the City of Cape Town’s water saving 'name and shame' campaign," said Maimane.
Ramaphosa could also look into partially privatising Eskom, Maimane said.
He urged Ramaphosa to privatise the generation entities of Eskom to allow a diverse range of energy to enter the grid, increase competition and lower the cost.