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Zuma: Govt. has plans for Eskom, SAA, SAPO

Speaking at the YCL's congress in Bellville today, Jacob Zuma says energy security is a key growth driver.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Taurai Maduna/EWN

CAPE TOWN - President Jacob Zuma says government has taken measures to revitalise troubled state owned enterprises.

It was announced during a post cabinet briefing in Pretoria yesterday that the deputy president will oversee the turnaround of three state owned entities namely Eskom, South African Airways (SAA) and the South African Post Office.

Speaking at the Young Communist League (YCL)'s congress in Bellville today, Zuma says energy security is a key growth driver.

"Energy security has been identified as a keynote driver of our economy. We have identified and are responding to Eskom's load shedding problem."

At the same time, Eskom says the power grid is stable going into the weekend, meaning there is no immediate risk of load shedding over the next few days.

The utility says it has managed to improve the performance of its generation fleet during the course of the week and gas turbines are about 50 percent full.

On Thursday, government announced a turnaround strategy for the parastatal, involving a war room, a five-point plan and the participation of the private sector.

Eskom has been battling diesel shortages and financial constraints, which has led to rolling blackouts over the last few weeks.

But spokesman Andrew Etzinger says the grid is now in a much healthier state.

"The good news is that at the moment if things stay as they are, there would be a very low risk of load shedding. We are in a good position going into the weekend. But we're also helped by the low electricity demand at this time of the year, as certain businesses wind down for the festive period."

Zuma also told the league if it were not for apartheid, the economy would be stronger.

He has also blamed poor education outcomes, and Eskom's supply problems on the history of institutionalised racism.

Zuma has blamed the country's economic woes on apartheid.

"Nobody is explaining where these problems come from."

He told delegates at the league's congress the reason the country's youth have performed poorly at school is because black people were deprived of quality education during apartheid.

"Now if you don't scientifically clear these things, you give the impression that black people are generally slow thinkers, not bright."

He says more people have electricity now than ever before, which is putting additional pressure on the national grid.