Tweets & former management: Pravin Gordhan on cleaning up Eskom

07 December 2018 - 09:57 By Odwa Mjo
Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan briefed the media about Eskom on Thursday, December 6 2018.
Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan briefed the media about Eskom on Thursday, December 6 2018.
Image: Masi Losi

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan held a press briefing with Eskom management on Thursday, December 6 2018, to address the ills of the country’s power utility. 

Here are some of the issues raised.

Load-shedding 

South Africans have found themselves in the dark in the past few weeks due to scheduled load-shedding.

Gordhan criticised the power utility for not properly communicating the power outages.

“Eskom does not communicate adequately, and we said so to the management team. Sending out a tweet is not communicating,” he said. 

The minister said the root causes of load-shedding were mainly the condition of the power stations and the maintenance of the plants.

“Eskom has 47,000 megawatts of installed capacity. Its plans to cut down operations, whether as a power station or units within power stations, was supposed to be 7,500 megawatts. Instead, what we’ve had is, in addition to the 7,500, somewhere between 9,000 and 11,000 megawatts of breakdowns. We have potential for 47,000, but can only supply about 26,000.”

Gordhan said some of the problems could be linked to the age of the power plants and investment in maintaining and repairing them, which were previously not done accurately. 

The minister said a “lousy, very old band-aid” had been used to repair some of the plants, which means poor quality. 

“Three units at Medupi and one or two at Khusile should be giving us 7,000 megawatts into the system already. They’re not.”

Gordhan said an internal investigation was being conducted into the “sub-standard” work produced by contractors and technical staff, stressing the need for consequence management.

“Someone has to take the fall for it,” he said. 

More hours for management

The minister said Eskom management would cancel its festive holidays to put in extra hours to fix the power utility as the country prepared for more power cuts.

Over the holidays, managers would be assigned to various power stations to asses the condition of the stations to get qualitative and quantitative information about what was happening on the ground.

Gordhan said no load-shedding should be expected between December 15 2018 and January 15 2019, as many industries would be closed.

The minister hinted that there could be reshuffles by mid-January within Eskom structures.

Former Eskom management

Gordhan took a jab at former managers of Eskom, who took to Twitter to address issues about the power utility. 

“We want to send a message to those who like to issue tweets, former managers in Eskom. Can you please take your hands off Eskom? Go and find a job that will keep you busy, because if you think you are the most skilled individual in town, I’m sure you’ll have a lot to do.

“Don’t try treasonous things which are going to get Eskom to perform less than its potential, even with the constraints that we have at the moment.”

Gordhan did not specify who he was referring to, but former CEO Matshela Koko has been vocal on Twitter. 

“Watch the Twitter space as we end this conference,” Gordhan said.

The minister’s comments drew reaction on Twitter, with South Africans appealing to him to name and shame those he was referring to.


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