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Mboweni shrugs off NUM’s threats to shutdown Eskom

NUM wants the government to abandon its plans to split Eskom into three divisions, fearing that this will lead to its privatisation.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement for 2019 in Parliament on 30 October 2019. Picture: Department of Treasury

CAPE TOWN - Finance Minister Tito Mboweni has on Thursday shrugged off threats by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) to close down the national grid.

NUM wants the government to abandon its plans to split Eskom into three divisions, fearing that this will lead to its privatisation. It also wants Eskom’s agreements with independent power producers to be cancelled.

Briefing Parliament’s finance and appropriations committees on Thursday afternoon, Mboweni also spoke about the need to sell off state-owned assets that were a drain on the fiscus.

Mboweni said the government would engage with the NUM over its threat to bring more power cuts, saying it’s about everyone understanding the country was in a difficult situation and the need to work together.

“My experience from the time when I was Minister of Labour is that one must not be alarmed by initial statements issued, but be open to conversation and negotiations. The end result is usually different to the starting point,” he said.

On state airlines, Mboweni said there was no logic in having SA Express and Airlink competing with each other when the South African Airways (SAA) owned about 3% of Airlink. He said SA Express should be shut down or folded into Airlink.

Mboweni revealed he was told by SAA’s acting CEO an entire spare engine “disappeared” from SA Technical Services.

"We’re in a situation where to give proper service to SAA we fly the aircraft to Jordan empty, and it returns empty – because we have destroyed our capacity as SA Technical Services. And you want to hang on to this thing, where large engines are lost, what for? For ideological reasons. What ideology is that? The ideology of theft?"