Ramaphosa assures public govt is working to stop load shedding

President Cyril Ramaphosa said government will be working aggressively to put an end to load shedding.

President Cyril Ramaphosa replying to questions orally in the National Assembly in Parliament on 6 November 2018. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa says there's no silver bullet to fixing the myriad of problems at Eskom.

But he's formed a special Cabinet committee to be led by his deputy David Mabuza to keep an eye on the entity and provide him with daily reports on what needs to be done to secure energy supply.

Responding to the debate on his State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Thursday afternoon, Ramaphosa said government will be working aggressively to put an end to load shedding.

The president says the extent of the lack of maintenance at Eskom has been underestimated.

“The unprecedented failure of Eskom’s generation capacity over the last few days underlies the severity of the challenges the company faces and the urgency of measures needed to address them.

He says Eskom urgently needs a new business model and it needs financial help from government.

Ramaphosa says the company must be split as announced in his address last week but that all the resultant entities will be wholly owned by the state.

“It is not a path to privatisation. I repeat it is not a path to privatisation.”

Ramaphosa says meetings will be held with labour in the coming days to discuss the unbundling plan, and to allay fears over job losses.

He says cost-cutting at the struggling state utility does not necessarily mean job cuts.

The president has also warned that government’s financial support for Eskom must be accompanied by a far-reaching turnaround plan for the company.

“For those who have doubted the extent of these challenges, this week’s load shedding has provided a huge reality check.”

Stage two load shedding is likely to last until about 10 pm.

AGGRESSIVE INTERVENTIONS NEEDED AT ESKOM

Ramaphosa says aggressive interventions will be needed to resolve the problems at Eskom.

While he has acknowledged that restructuring the company won't solve the immediate electricity supply crisis, he says it will position Eskom to meet the country's future energy needs.

Ramaphosa says Eskom has become a complex and unwieldy organisation.

The president says splitting it up will make it easier for funders to assess risk and opportunity.

He says separating Eskom into three entities will also allow for more investment into urgently needed generation capacity.

“It has become clear that Eskom needs to be assisted by the state so that it can stabilise its finances because doing so also means that we are stabilising the economy of our country.”

Ramaphosa says the financial assistance to be outlined by Minister Tito Mboweni in his budget speech, must be accompanied by a credible turnaround plan that has both an immediate and lasting impact.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)