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Govt not in the business of selling power stations, says Ramaphosa

Disposing of ageing coal-fired plants is one of the suggestions in the Economic Strategy document.

FILE: Answering questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday, Cyril  Ramaphosa seemed to distance himself from the idea, saying it was problematic. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa said government was not in the business of selling power stations, one of the proposals on the table to level Eskom’s towering mountain of debt.

Disposing of ageing coal-fired plants is one of the suggestions in the economic strategy document released by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni.

It states this could raise around R450 billion, which would wipe out Eskom’s debt.

But answering questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday, Ramaphosa seemed to distance himself from the idea, saying it was problematic.

“We have to ask ourselves which power stations will be sold. Are you going to sell the ones that are closing or the new ones? In my book, you’re not going to sell the new ones, because they are the crown jewels of Eskom.”

Ramaphosa said some communities were dependent, for jobs and water, on the old power stations around which their towns were built.

“Do you want those towns to become ghost towns or not? What are we going to do with giving the people around those power stations and workers a just transition and a migration forward,” he said.

It would be different if someone was prepared to give a power station a new lease on life: “But inherently, we are saying we are not in the business of selling power stations. No,” Ramaphosa added.

Ramaphosa said the private sector would have a key role in Eskom’s restructuring but it would remain state-owned.

He’s also announced a government campaign against the culture of non-payment for services.

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