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    SA is dancing to the dying tune of Eskom’s load shedding and it’s rapidly collapsing

    January 30, 2023 - Siphelele Dludla


      Eskom appears to be left with no one at the wheel to steer South Africa out of the ongoing energy crisis after a meeting between Members of Parliament (MPs) and the utility’s board and senior management at Megawatt Park to seek answers for rolling blackouts collapsed following an early departure of outgoing CEO André de Ruyter.

      Three parliamentary portfolio committees were left seething on Friday after De Ruyter and Chief Operations Officer, Jan Oberlhozer, asked to be excused from the crucial meeting on account of another meeting they had to attend with Eskom’s lender, the World Bank.

      MPs said De Ruyter and Oberholzer’s non-attendance of the meeting was concerning, especially considering the fact that the senior management was given adequate notice, but instead tendered verbal apologies just before the start of the meeting.

      This is contrary to practice in Parliament, which calls for written apologies to be submitted before time and it has resulted in the meeting being rescheduled to this week in Cape Town where the Eskom board and senior management will attend and outline short, medium and long term strategies aimed at resolving the energy crisis.

      The committees were of the view that this meeting was too important for it to proceed without the two most senior executives at Eskom.

      “The committees also highlighted concerns that the presentation made to the committees was similar to a previous presentation and lacked precision and the necessary energy to resolve the current challenges,” they said in a statement.

      “While the presentation touched on many critical aspects, especially the long-term goals, the committees were of the view that it lacked short-term strategies.

      “Thus the committees expect Eskom to directly address specific issues including the Energy Availability Factor, security of electricity supply, the operational state of all power stations, governance at the entity, process towards employment of the new Group Chief Executive Officer, possible solutions to the current load shedding, as well as alleged sabotage and theft at power stations.”

      ANC MPs were , with Tebogo Mamorobela and Mikateko Mahlaule leading the charge against Eskom’s top brass.

      Mamorobela accused De Ruyter of undermining the committee’s members.

      “Who is going to solve those things for us? It is a fact that should be put on the record that we as members of Parliament want the CEO and COO in this meeting to solve the problems. We are not saying that the meeting must not continue, but we are being undermined,” Mamorobela said.

      Mahlaule said he had a problem with De Ruyter continuing to be at the helm of Eskom when he had already resigned, and he refused to direct questions to new board chairperson Mpho Makwana.

      “He has resigned but is still here. He doesn’t show interest that he is still here in the company,” Mahlaule said.

      “Chairperson, you talk about changing corporate culture when it’s directed at workers but is not corporate culture when you are doing it in front of us. Whether they have briefed you, I don’t want to ask you a question. You are not part of the problem that I want to ask. It’s De Ruyter and Oberholzer that we want to ask questions to, because they are the leaders here.”

      Some of the issues that were set to be addressed included the security of electricity supply, the operational state of all power stations, governance at the entity, solutions to the current load shedding, as well as alleged sabotage and theft at power stations.

      The committees are adamant that the constant load shedding is having an adverse impact on the country and is exacerbating its socio-economic challenges.

      Eskom continued implementing various stages of load shedding during the weekend as unplanned breakdowns amounted to 15 848MW of generating capacity while 6 482MW was out on planned maintenance.

      The persistent blackouts have put a severe strain on farmers' ability to produce fresh, quality food. In KwaZulu-Natal, a dairy farmer was recently forced to discard 12 000 litres of milk after it turned sour. While the poultry industry had to slaughter 10 million chickens, as the result of electricity outages.

      FoodForward SA (FFSA) managing director, Andy Du Plessis, said on Friday that there was no telling how deeply the agriculture sector will suffer from power cuts or electricity tariffs, or the ripple effect this will have on the country’s already crippling food prices.

      “The real impact of load shedding goes well beyond being unable to turn on our lights or charge our phones for a few hours a day. It’s triggering an unprecedented collapse of South Africa’s economy, infrastructure, and future,” Du Plessis said.

      “It’s threatening our fragile food security ecosystem, leaving more people in poverty and without access to healthy, nutritious food.”



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