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‘Eskom can't operate without cash bailouts’

The former CEO said funding Eskom's capacity expansion has always been a source of delays at the utility.

FILE: Eskom's headquarters in Sunninghill, Johannesburg. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - As government mulls over the future of Eskom chairman Zola Tsotsi, the utility's former CEO Jacob Maroga on Tuesday said without a stronger funding policy, it will not be able to secure capacity or operate without bailouts.

The 19th annual Power and Electricity Africa Conference kicked off in Johannesburg where Maroga addressed South Africa's current energy crisis and how to escape it.

Maroga served as Eskom CEO between 2007 and 2009 and says the current shortages have been caused by delays in appointing private companies to build additional power stations.

Maroga said funding Eskom's capacity expansion has always been a source of delays at the utility.

"I think the big issue has always been what the funding strategy is for Eskom. It started when we had to do the new power stations. How will they be funded?"

He said the policy around this remains unclear.

"Will they all be funded through tariffs? Or is it going to be partly shareholder injection? That issue hasn't been fully resolved. Hence, Eskom has to continuously go through these funding shortfalls."

Maroga said there should also be serious concern around Eskom's downgrade by rating agencies as this would impact the cost of borrowing money to build future projects.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday called on Tsotsi to do what it said was "the right thing" and step down.

The NUM has objected to his appointment to the utility's board from the beginning and has urged Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown to take action against him if he refuses to step aside.

Two weeks ago the electricity giant announced the suspension of four of its senior executives pending an investigation into problems at the parastatal.

Take a look at EWN's feature on how to survive load shedding.

To view load shedding schedules in your area, click here.

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