Engagements on Eskom are ongoing, says presidency
The presidency says engagements on government's interventions to resolve the energy crisis are ongoing.
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya confirmed to TimesLIVE that there was no cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
However, he said: “Engagements on Eskom are ongoing.”
The cabinet met virtually last Wednesday to discuss the energy crisis. There was no announcement as the cabinet said it was still “deliberating”.
Meanwhile, Ramaphosa told the local government summit gathering in Boksburg on Wednesday that the government was dealing with Eskom’s debt.
If for instance we are going to do something about the debt, then there are certain obligations we are going to impose on them. There’s nothing for nothing in this worldPresident Cyril Ramaphosa
“Eskom’s debt has ballooned to R450bn and clearly where Eskom is now, it will not be able to meet that debt. It’s a national challenge and issue.”
He told the municipal leaders that Eskom wants the debt to be paid.
“If for instance we are going to do something about the debt, then there are certain obligations we are going to impose on them. There’s nothing for nothing in this world.
“If you want something, you’ve got to be able to give something back and so even Eskom will be able to go through something like that as we deal with their debt as well.”
At a municipal level, Ramaphosa suggested that municipalities who want their debt written off must write proposals to Eskom and explain what they will be doing in exchange.
“So that the level of seriousness in terms of applying yourselves to addressing the issue of electricity charges that Eskom levies is seen. So it cannot just be a write-off without you reciprocating in whatever fashion.”
Earlier the president’s keynote address was briefly disturbed by load-shedding at the venue. It quickly came back after generators kicked in.
A laughing Ramaphosa apologised to guests, saying: “This continues to be our biggest challenge. I think it affects you at local level because you distribute electricity and when it does this [a power outage], your customers lose businesses.
“It disrupts the livelihoods of our residents and people lose confidence in us.”
The Sunday Times reported at the weekend that changes at the highest levels of the crisis-stricken power utility were looming after meetings between Ramaphosa and his cabinet to discuss a new board.
As the power utility experienced arguably its worst week of rolling blackouts, several well-placed insiders told the Sunday Times of engagements between the presidency and the public enterprises department about a new board.
The talks were expected to be finalised this week but it is not clear when an announcement will be made.
On Tuesday, TimesLIVE reported that public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan confirmed that he had told the Eskom board it will soon be reconstituted and restructured.
The minister said his department had met directors whose terms expired last year and were extended, subject to review.
“The minister has been in constant engagement with the board on matters pertaining to the generation challenges and other energy-related matters such as procurement, recruitment of former and experienced Eskom employees and combating fraud and corruption,” the department said.
Gordhan said he met the board members on Tuesday and told them a review had been finalised and the board would soon be reconstituted and restructured.
“The board members will be informed of the outcome of the process.”
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