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Market players could be forgiven for greeting last week’s news that the Treasury is working on a sustainable solution to Eskom’s debt problem with loud yawns. They have definitely heard this one before, more than once in the nearly four years since government first promised a solution to this supposedly urgent issue.

The problem, in essence, is that Eskom does not generate enough cash from its operations to service its debt — that is, to meet the interest payments and repay capital when the bonds or loans fall due, which now totals about R40bn a year. The gap continues despite steep tariff increases over many years...

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