Cyril Ramaphosa. REUTERS
Cyril Ramaphosa. REUTERS

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the ANC will speed up the process of transforming Eskom into an effective and reliable energy supplier that can “operate in an open, competitive energy sector”. 

Ramaphosa delivered his third January 8 statement on Saturday in Kimberley in the Northern Cape in the first big political event for the year for the governing party which sets its policy line for the year.   

The lead-up to the event which is held to commemorate the ANC’s founding in 1912, was overshadowed this week by the SA’s ailing power utility which is the biggest risk to the country’s economy. 

Ramaphosa’s address also comes a day after the resignation of former board chair Jabu Mabuza was announced by the presidency on Friday, after deputy president David Mabuza earlier this week said Ramaphosa was misled on when loadshedding would have to be implemented in the new year.

Calls for the resignation of axing of public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has intensified since the deputy president’s comments on Thursday. Ramaphosa said the government would step up among others its investment drive, launch a massive infrastructure build programme, reduce the cost of doing business and see to the creation of jobs, in an attempt to achieve a far greater pace of economic growth. 

He said they would unlock the potential of small business, cooperatives and the township economy, as well as revamp and re-open industrial parks to enhance job creation. He said the ANC would also continue to promote sectors like manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and the oceans economy as major areas for employment growth. “For all these efforts to succeed, we must ensure the stability of electricity supply,” Ramaphosa said.

He said it meant that the introduction of new electricity generation by private companies, must be accelerated.

“We must also find new sources of energy such as gas and intermediate energy that can be brought on ships. We must complete the measures undertaken to ensure the financial and operational stability of Eskom. We will accelerate the process of transforming Eskom into an effective and reliable electricity supplier that can operate in an open, competitive energy sector,” Ramaphosa said. He however emphasised that the measures referred to did not mean that Eskom would be privatised.

“We will strengthen it to deliver energy as it should,” Ramaphosa said.  Ramaphosa said Eskom was the largest company in SA and that it was “too big too fail”. “We will not allow Eskom to fail. We will rebuild it,” Ramaphosa said. 

He said Eskom, its management and its board must continue to ensure that the power stations are maintained. 

He said the management has been urged and will be supported and strengthened to restore and maintain SA’s power stations, as well as ensure that “new energy” will be procuref through various means, “will come on stream.”