Carol Paton Writer at Large

Eskom slashed spending on maintenance over the past four years by almost 50%, Eskom officials told members of parliament on Wednesday. The performance of Eskom’s coal plants has been plummeting, leading to a highly constrained system and resulting in the first round of load-shedding since 2016 on Sunday. Acting CFO Calib Cassim told the portfolio committee on public enterprises that capital spending on Eskom’s existing assets was R30bn in 2014 but fell to R17bn by 2018. Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe said that Eskom “had not managed maintenance in the way we should have”. Eskom is attempting to manage its financial problems by cutting capital expenditure. The company is crippled by debt of some R350bn and in the past financial year was unable to service its debt from operational revenue. New figures on state guarantees presented by Cassim show that Eskom has drawn down or committed all but R14bn of its government guarantees of R350bn. The effect of the decline in spending on maintenance...

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