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Parliament sets date to debate Eskom energy crisis

It follows a request from the Democratic Alliance (DA)'s Natasha Mazzone for an urgent debate of national importance.

Members of Parliament sit in the National Assembly during President Cyril Ramaphosa's State of the Nation Address on 7 February 2019. Picture: EWN

CAPE TOWN - Parliament will debate the Eskom energy crisis at a sitting next Thursday.

It follows a request from the Democratic Alliance's Natasha Mazzone for an urgent debate of national importance.

On Thursday, Parliament’s programming committee agreed to place it on the order paper for next week, a day after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers the budget.

He's expected to make announcement's regarding Eskom as is President Cyril Ramaphosa when he responds to the debate on his State of the Nation Address on Thursday afternoon.

Mazzone explained why she requested the debate: “We feel that it is essential for South Africans to understand the extent of this crisis; to hear plans that are being put on the table and certainly for uncertainties or any misunderstandings to be cleared up. We have seen over the past two days the Department of Public Enterprises flip-flopping around Eskom.”

At the same time, the DA is pushing for the privatisation of Eskom and wants labour to support the move.

The DA's position is in contrast to ANC-aligned unions like the National Union of Mineworkers, which has threatened to go on strike should the power utility be privatised.

In his State of the Nation Address last week, Ramaphosa announced the decision to unbundle Eskom into three separate units. While the president made no mention of privatisation, opposition parties and unions say unbundling is just a precursor to privatisation.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane says unions have to be brought on board.

“We got to ensure that we take the fight strongly to labour, we cannot be held to ransom by unions who will insist that they will go on strike should there be any move to privatise Eskom. That view is archaic, dangerous and will lead fundamentally to job loses.”

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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