'Bold steps' needed to save Eskom as threat of load-shedding looms

Despite a recovery programme, load-shedding could not be ruled out for the remainder of 2018, CEO warns

28 November 2018 - 12:35 By Linda Ensor
Jabu Mabuza.
Jabu Mabuza.

Eskom, which is facing dire financial woes, has seen a steady decline in plant performance and coal supply, which could threaten its ability to keep the lights on, chair Jabu Mabuza said on Wednesday. 

Mabuza said at the release of the state-owned power producer's 2018-2019 interim results that the way the company was operating now “is not sustainable”. 

“We are locked in a permanent loss-making position,” he said. “We need bold steps to save Eskom.”

Mabuza said they were engaging stakeholders to find financial alignment, with the aim of about R30bn in savings over the next five years. 

He also confirmed the permanent appointment of Calib Cassim as CFO. 

The interim results showed that most financial ratios deteriorated, and that arrears from municipalities continued to worsen — jumping from R13.6bn earlier in the year, to R17bn in September.

Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe said that despite a recovery programme, load-shedding could not be ruled out for the remainder of 2018.

“We will do our best but South Africans need to know it’s a risk that is existing,” he said. 

Meanwhile, the final report of parliament’s inquiry into Eskom was adopted on Wednesday with the unanimous support of all political parties.

The public enterprises committee, which conducted the inquiry, found that former ministers of public enterprises — Malusi Gigaba and Lynne Brown — were “grossly negligent” in carrying out their responsibilities. 

The committee found that there had been corruption of procurement processes at Eskom and that there was a corrupt relationship between the Gupta family, their associates and key state functionaries.

- BusinessLIVE