David Mabuza says Eskom management is the ‘best available’ to tackle crisis
Deputy president tells parliament that load-shedding is the only reason for criticism of Eskom’s leadership
Deputy President David Mabuza has again come to the defence of Eskom’s beleaguered management.
Mabuza said during a question-and-answer session in parliament on Thursday that persistent load-shedding is the only reason Eskom’s leadership is criticised.
Unions and political parties had called for Eskom CEO André de Ruyter to resign after a spate of load-shedding in November, when the power utility implemented stage 4 load-shedding.
Mabuza, who leads the political task team on Eskom, said: “I am convinced that the current leadership of Eskom and the board, of course working under pressure and duress ... are trying their level best, and I am supportive of them. And I can tell, with due respect to all those who are criticising the leadership of Eskom, that this is the best leadership we can have to transform and turn around Eskom.
“I am happy with the way they are transforming the organisation. I am happy with the cost-savings measures that are under way and I am happy with the savings that they have made, and will continue to make,” said Mabuza.
This is the second time the deputy president has come to the defence of Eskom leadership in parliament.
Last month, he defended De Ruyter during a question-and-answer session in the National Council of Provinces at a time when the power utility’s CEO was under fire after he referred to the company as a “dead horse”.
He said the turnaround would take a bit more hard work and support for the power utility’s leadership. Mabuza said the criticism stems from load-shedding and that South Africans should understand that the leadership found the utility and its plants in a poor state in terms of maintenance.
“What is happening is that as this leadership plans how to maintain these plants, there are unplanned outages that disrupt the entire plan. And I am happy that they are managing the process and they are bold enough to announce when there are unplanned outages and they don’t hide the truth.
“This is what is good about this leadership and I think we should support the Eskom board and administrative leadership. There is no intention on the side of government to sell Eskom. Eskom must be supported, it is very important in the life of the economy of the country and I don’t see any, in our vocabulary, signs of starting to think about selling Eskom,” he said.
Mabuza, however, supported the drive to diversify energy generation capacity by allowing for independent power producers.
“An intervention that the president made was to announce that private companies have permission to generate up to 100MW of energy so that they can relieve pressure on Eskom and we have now opened the window for independent power producers (IPP) also to connect to our grid,” said Mabuza.
He said the introduction of IPPs was to allow for competition in the hope that prices of electricity would come down.
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