Mabuza details ‘reasons’ behind load shedding

In February, Deputy President David Mabuza was jeered and laughed at by opposition MPs when he told the House that load shedding was a sign of growth.

FILE: Deputy President David Mabuza addresses parliamentarians during a question and answer session in Parliament on 27 February. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Deputy President David Mabuza has expanded on what he believes are the reasons for the recent Eskom power outages that rattled the economy.

Mabuza was answering questions in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

In February, he was jeered and laughed at by opposition Members of Parliament when he told the House that load shedding was a sign of growth.

On Tuesday afternoon, however, he went into more detail.

Mabuza didn’t entirely abandon his previous position on load shedding, citing population growth and most South Africans now having access to electricity.

But this time he also listed Eskom’s governance, operating and financial failures, including the lack of plant maintenance that directly caused the recent outages.

“Eskom is not generating sufficient cash to meet its operating costs and service debts. It has been borrowing to make principal and interest payments on its loans.”

Mabuza said Eskom’s unsustainable operating costs, caused by costly coal contracts and overall operating inefficiencies, led to its cash crisis.

“The escalating debt-service cost will peak at almost R400 billion after the completion of Medupi and Kusile. Eskom owes more than R420 billion.”

Mabuza said those contracts did not optimise local content in the building program “but instead, enabled looting and corruption”.

CONFLICT OF INTEREST OVER IPPS?

The deputy president dismissed claims of a conflict of interest in the relationship between President Cyril Ramaphosa and his brother in law Patrice Motsepe.

Mabuza was responding to a question from Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) MP Yoliswa Yako who asked whether Motsepe’s involvement in Independent Power Producers (IPPs) does not pose a conflict for the president and his Energy Minister Jeff Radebe.

“Every person, whether it’s my brother-in-law who is in business, he has the right to do business wherever he is. But he or she does not have the right to do wrong things. Every person has got the right to do business.”

Unions have claimed that Ramaphosa’s decision to unbundle Eskom would benefit Motsepe’s firm African Rainbow Energy and Power.

The EFF has also suggested that both the president and Radebe have personal interests in IPPs. Both Radebe and Ramaphosa are Motsepe’s brothers-in-law.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)