As Eskom has taken flak for rolling blackouts that have cost the South African economy billions, with poor planning by the power utility’s executive management being flagged, a senior ANC MP has come out in support of CEO André de Ruyter.
While conceding that Eskom faced technical challenges, parliamentary portfolio committee chair of public enterprises Khaya Magaxa, defended De Ruyter and the utility’s top management.
Said Magaxa: “Eskom is running a fleet with a majority of coal-fired power stations past their mid-life and years of poor maintenance.
“It is going to take time to replace and repair these power stations – prone to problems, given their age.
“Eskom implemented the reliability maintenance and refurbishment projects, to address the unreliability of plant performance.
“It is expected that plant performance will be back to acceptable levels by late 2021”
He blamed Eskom challenges on “the extent of the damage inflicted by state capture”.
Said Magaxa: “We have full confidence in Mr De Ruyter.
“Whilst he (De Ruyter) has a responsibility to run the entity effectively and efficiently, he still has to battle with remnants of corrupt people and state capture beneficiaries.
“They will continue attacking him due to the taps being closed.”
While the rest of the country experienced load shedding, Magaxa said power cuts were suspended in parliament “to allow for sittings to resume and pass important bills”.
In blasting Eskom for what he saw as its unconvincing explanation for continued load shedding, energy expert Ted Blom this week said poor management and lack of planning were at the core of the energy glitch.
Said Blom: “If the Eskom CEO delivered on his promise to the public of South Africa, we would have been steaming ahead.
“The fact is that Eskom cannot list one single power station that has been successfully overhauled – in line with the utility’s reliability philosophy and backed with an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) warranty.”
He said all the power stations should have been “in mint condition if there was zero corruption and competence at Eskom”.
“There are plenty of plans, but zero implementation, with gross negligence in the execution of Medupi, Kusile and Ingula pointing to Eskom’s lack of competent staff.
“Eskom has dropped from being a world class utility to the bottom of the pack – led by a useless and rudderless management,” said Blom.
University of Johannesburg associate professor of economics, Peter Baur, said Eskom’s load shedding spill over was “much greater” on the economy.
“Much of this is due to the multiplier process and depends on the overall sensitivity of the respective industries to energy availability.
“Primary production such as farming and fishing may be less electricity dependant – less sensitive.
“But secondary and tertiary sectors such as manufacturing and the service sector make up a larger portion of the economy,” said Baur.