Eskom announces plan to keep the lights off as death spiral continues

Eskom CEO, Andre De Ruyter, today made a series of devastating announcements, which reveal the true death spiral Eskom finds itself in. De Ruyter announced today a plan to keep the lights off; promising more “intensive loadshedding”.

In 2015 government and Eskom announced a “maintenance festival”. It came to naught. What tangible assurances can we be given that inefficiencies, graft and political interference will not impact these plans?

It is high time that the nation is fast transitioned away from reliance on Eskom, which clearly cannot deliver. Our fragile economy desperately needs energy security.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) stands firm in our belief that the only way to guarantee reliable electricity supply, is to give South Africans the power to choose between alternative electricity generation options. It is time to say that Eskom cannot deliver, and is only taking South Africa backward.

The DA insists that urgent change must include introducing independent power producers to the grid, splitting Eskom into two entities so that generation and transmission can receive their own intensive focus, and exploring the partial privatization of the utility. But most important of all is that South Africans must be allowed and enabled to start choosing other electricity supply options, which currently the ANC government is doing everything it can to block.

Contracts need to be made transparent and the shareholders’ contract with Eskom must be renegotiated to give management the degree of freedom to implement responsible measures – which must be shared with the country.

It is time that the power to generate electricity is given to the people of South Africa, as De Ruyter’s admission sends a clear message that the Eskom under ANC governance is incapable of delivering a secure and dependable electricity grid. That is now an inescapable fact.

Eskom continues to utilize the same tired strategies and turnaround plans which time and again amount to darkness, as the announcement today of “intensive loadshedding” proves. Eskom has no plan to keep the lights on. In fact, it announced a plan today to keep the lights off, and that we find unacceptable.

The DA has a plan to stabilise and secure South Africa’s power supply and that is contained in our Cheaper Energy Bill, which seeks to break Eskom into two separate entities – a generation and distribution entity. This bill would ultimately break Eskom’s monopolistic grip over electricity generation and distribution in our country.

With more than R400 billion in debt, ailing infrastructure, and a bloated workforce there is simply no way to believe that government can save this sinking ship. Furthermore, throwing money, through bailouts and tariff hikes, at the problem will certainly make no difference. Why should South Africans continue to fork out billions for a power utility that cannot keep the lights on?