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Ramaphosa to announce further steps on Eskom in Sona debate reply

Corruption and the problems faced by the beleaguered power utility have featured prominently over the last two days of the Sona debate.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his State of the Nation Address in a joint sitting of the opening of Parliament on 7 February 2019. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce further steps on Eskom on Thursday when he delivers his reply to the State of the Nation Address (Sona) debate in Parliament.

Corruption and the problems faced by the beleaguered power utility have featured prominently over the last two days of debate.

On Wednesday, Parliament’s Public Enterprises portfolio committee heard that Eskom's debt is now standing at R420 billion and it won’t be able to keep the lights on beyond April if it continues on its current trajectory.

During his Sona speech last week, Ramaphosa announced that Eskom will be separated into three entities to help improve operations and contain costs.

Three days later, the country was again faced with rolling blackouts.

On Wednesday, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said he had been holding hours of meetings with the Eskom board and senior management to understand the problems that have led to the latest load shedding.

He said the impact on the economy and investment is particularly concerning.

“If we do not have enough revenue to cover all the costs, neither our households, neither our businesses nor Eskom can run effectively. Unless we say government must constantly subsidise the gap between revenue and costs.”

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is expected to shed more light on exactly how government plans to bail out Eskom, when he delivers the budget next week.

Parliament is also due to decide today when a debate of national importance will be held on the energy crisis following a request from the Democratic Alliance on Monday and approved by National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete on Wednesday.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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