'That will never happen': Mabuza says Eskom privatisation not on the cards

'The only thing we spoke about is the unbundling of Eskom, which is on course,' says deputy president

26 August 2021 - 18:18 By nonkululeko njilo
Deputy President David Mabuza says there are no plans to privatise Eskom. File photo.
Deputy President David Mabuza says there are no plans to privatise Eskom. File photo.
Image: GCIS

There are no plans in the pipeline to privatise embattled power utility Eskom — at least according to Deputy President David Mabuza.

He made the remarks on Thursday while responding to oral questions during a virtual sitting of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

“There is no intention by this government to privatise the generation of electricity by Eskom ... That will never happen. The only thing we spoke about is the unbundling of Eskom, which is on course,” he said. 

This comes amid the country’s ongoing load-shedding and energy supply woes, with speculation raised about the future of the utility.

Some fears were fuelled by a big explosion at the Medupi power station this month, effectively leading to all work there being suspended. The affect on the national grid is yet to be determined.

Quizzed on the incident, Mabuza pleaded for Eskom to be given time and space to conduct investigations and compile a report. He was, however, “equally concerned” with the occurrence, which was labelled a “major” event.

“It is anticipated that the affected unit is likely to be offline for a considerable time. That is why an investigation team comprising Eskom, experts and the original equipment manufacturer has been appointed to determine the cause and full extent of the damage. 

“For now, it's too early in the investigation to address remedial action,” he said.

MPs expressed concern over the incident, which they said would reverse the gains in terms of stabilising the utility.

“We are equally concerned about this incident. However, it's best to respond to an outcome of an investigation so that we are appropriate in our response,” said Mabuza.

“I understand frustration that we are facing energy shortages and load-shedding. We have been on a rough journey but we should not take shortcuts that will hamper our movement forward.”

While it was unclear when the report into the explosion would be completed, the deputy president assured MPs that he would ask for it to be completed speedily.

“We are going to urge Eskom that we complete this investigation a bit sooner, so we can start with the repairs and bring it back to generation,” he said. 

Mabuza asked for patience and said a human error could not be ruled out as a possible cause of the explosion. 

“We’re really going to take action if this incident is as a result of human error. If not, I am sure the leadership of the utility will decide and give us a way forward.”