Eskom should not be granted another tariff increase at the expense of consumers who can barely meet their monthly expenses already, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Monday.
“The DA opposed such an increase. As I’ve been going around the country the majority of South Africans cannot afford the cost of living,” he told reporters in Johannesburg.
“The key cost drivers have been the cost of electricity; it is a significant economic decision.”
He accused Eskom’s acting CEO Brian Molefe of misleading the South African public by claiming there would be no load sheding this winter.
“Molefe is misleading the country. I live in Johannesburg, I have experienced load shedding this winter.”
Maimane said the 25,3% tariff hike being requested by Eskom would only add to the rising rate of unemployment and would result in even less disposable income for South African households.
“South Africa has failed at managing this monopoly. We need to diversify our energy supply if we want sustainable energy growth.”
He called on the parastatal to employ a non-politically affiliated figure whose only interest was turning Eskom around.
“We desperately need someone who has a permanent capacity to focus solely on Eskom. I would rather we find the right person to focus on the entity and nothing else … who is going to be frank about where the entity is.”
He also called on deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa to take responsibility and to supply detailed answers when asked about Eskom in parliament.
“Ramaphosa must take responsibility on this issue, he must respond and must account.”
DA MP Gordon Mackay, who sits on the energy portfolio committee, said Eskom did not deserve the tariff increase and needed to prove it could manage itself internally before being assisted by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).
“Every single year Eskom asks for a higher determination. Eskom is taking advantage of the South African consumer,” Mackay said.
He said the public entity was in a R260bn black hole and if Nersa was to grant the increase, it would cost South Africans more than R150 each out of their own pockets.
South Africa’s current economic climate was not favourable for the increase, he said.
Many small, medium and micro businesses would shed jobs due to rising financial strain.
Mackay said Eskom needed to stop borrowing, but to rather consider selling 30% of its stake in order to generate its own revenue.
Natasha Mazzone, who sits on the parliamentary public enterprises portfolio committee, said South Africans had every right to be upset about the country’s energy supply.
“This issue should have been dealt with as far back as 1998.”
She said it was time Eskom revealed how much money the country was spending on buying diesel and coal supplies.
“Medupi and Kusile [power stations] are so far behind that it is unacceptable and unexplainable. Just Medupi alone was estimated to cost R56bn, we are now sitting at R96bn.
“There is complete mismanagement at Eskom. We need to have people at Eskom that know what they are doing. We are losing engineers at Eskom, the lifeblood of the company.”
Asked whether they thought their strong opposition against the tariff hike would make a difference, Mackay said the party had confidence that Nersa would act accordingly.
“We have faith in Nersa to do its job. There are still some competent individuals at Nersa, I think we will be successful.” — News24