President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated that government’s attempts to reconfigure and split Eskom into three divisions is not aimed at privatising the embattled power utility.
These measures, he said, are rather aimed at stabilising the utility and getting it back on its feet.
“We are not going to privatise Eskom,” he said, comparing the move to auctioning one’s family for silver. “Eskom is going to continue being owned by our government.”
To reverse the entity’s current predicament, government has announced interventions ranging from addressing debt to operational matters.
Ramaphosa made the remarks while addressing Eskom workers and contractors at the Medupi power station in Lephalale in Limpopo on Tuesday.
In his state of the nation address early this year, Ramaphosa announced that Eskom would in the near future be split into three entities focusing operations, distribution and transmission.
On Tuesday, he reiterated that there were no sinister motives behind the move.
“This has been done all over the world. China has done it, Brazil has done it, a number of countries in Africa have done it, some countries in Europe have done it. They have done the focus areas of the business so that they can maximise and get people to pay, so that they operate efficiently. And that is precisely what we are seeking to do,” he said.
“We want to modernise Eskom so it can operate better, so it can be in line with new technologies, in line with modern times. Eskom must be able to compete with other electricity generating companies around the world.”
The president pointed out that while South Africa was the biggest energy producer on the continent, this had come at huge financial cost.
“One of the biggest challenges is the debt that we have (from building) Medupi and Kusile. In building these power stations, we have had to go and borrow a lot of money and today Eskom owes over R400-billion, which is a debt that the government has to carry,” he said.
Because of that debt and other factors, the country’s economy has suffered the consequences.
“But we are addressing this problem. The government has decided that we are going to continue to support Eskom. We aren’t going to let Eskom go down. Eskom is too important, we are going to support Eskom, even though we have got a huge debt,” he said. — SANews