Parliament set to hold ‘urgent debate’ on SA’s energy crisis
As load-shedding continues to grip South Africa, National Assembly speaker Baleka Mbete confirmed on Wednesday that parliament would soon hold an “urgent debate” on the country's energy crisis.
A request for the debate was made by DA MP Natasha Mazzone on Monday in a letter to Mbete. Mazzone said the debate was tentatively scheduled for February 21 - the day after the budget speech.
According to a statement issued by parliament on Monday, Mbete told Mazzone that she “agreed that the recent commencement of load-shedding by Eskom and especially its impact on the economy was a serious matter warranting the attention of the National Assembly”.
The National Assembly Programme Committee, which determines the programme of the house, is scheduled to meet on Thursday morning, when it is expected to set the date for the debate.
In a statement released on Wednesday, Mazzone said the DA was “dumbstruck” by a presentation by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan before the public enterprises committee earlier in the day.
In his presentation, Gordhan said Eskom was “technically insolvent” and would “cease to exist” beyond April 2019. This, said Mazzone, “confirmed our worst fears by saying that a government bailout is required to save Eskom”.
“This bailout is certain to be truly massive and may even dwarf the 2015 bailout of Eskom, which included a R23bn ‘special appropriation’ and the conversion of a R60bn subordinated loan to worthless equity,” she said.
Mazzone said she expected finance minister Tito Mboweni to announced a “special appropriation” for Eskom in his upcoming budget speech.
“The issues at Eskom are numerous, but it is becoming painfully obvious that the crisis is due to two main problems: corruption and mismanagement," said Mazzone.
"We are now being presented with a clear picture of a power utility crippled by chronically failing power plants, both old and new, and with no idea how to keep the lights on.
“Next week’s debate on the crisis at Eskom is crucial and indeed urgent, as the failure of our sole power supplier spells disaster for each and every South African.”