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Eskom 'cautiously optimistic' on power supply

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says the situation seems to have stabilised.

FILE: Eskom says it's cautiously optimistic that there'll be no load shedding in the near future. Picture: EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - Eskom says it's cautiously optimistic that there will be no load shedding this week or in the near future.

The country was hit by load shedding at the weekend which saw outages of between six and eight hours in some provinces.

It was the second consecutive weekend of rolling blackouts as the utility battles with diesel shortages and problems at its Majuba Power Station in Mpumalanga.

Last month, a coal silo at Majuba collapsed and that led to rolling blackouts across the country.

The weekend blackouts was due to general upkeep measures at the Cahora-Bassa hydroelectric power station in Mozambique.

South Africa imports a portion of its electricity from the scheme.

But Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says the situation seems to have stabilised.

"The load shedding over the weekend enabled us to recover our reserves, so going into the week, we are on a good footing."

ESKOM ASKS WORKERS TO QUIT

Last week, Eskom announced plans to offer staff voluntary severance packages.

The parastatal says the applications, due in February, will be considered on a case-by-case basis but operational requirements will be considered to ensure core skills are not lost.

Eskom is battling fuel shortages, financial constraints and rolling blackouts and has warned that load shedding could continue well into March.

The power utility released its financial report last week showing it made a profit of R9.3 billion in the first six months of the financial year, this is down by 24 percent compared to the same period in 2013.

The power producer will analyse the situation again at the end of February.

Ratings agencies Standard & Poor, Fitch and Moody's recently downgraded Eskom and chief financial director Tsholofelo Molefe said that "any further downgrade would seriously impede Eskom's ability to raise external funding".

Meanwhile, two employees have been arrested for allegedly trying to defraud Eskom of billions of rands after interfering with its payroll system.

The pair was apprehended along with an accomplice during a sting operation at the weekend following a two month investigation.

Alarm bells were raised by Eskom when they picked up fraudulent activity within their information technology department.

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