In an unsurprising move yesterday, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that R230 billion has been allocated over ten years to stabilise electricity supply, which effectively means more money wasted on a bankrupt Eskom.
Yet again, the Finance Minister showed his unwillingness to free South Africa from the monopoly of Eskom as we see large amounts of money earmarked to an SOE that is without any transparency of spend.
This sum that represents a fraction of the full restructuring costs, is destined to be swallowed up without any tangible results to show.
All we are told about this SOE, which is almost single-handedly responsible for the noose around the neck of the fiscus, is that critical maintenance is to be relied upon to ease electricity shortfalls.
The full cost and detailed plans of maintenance and restructuring in an entity that has been run into the ground has not been tabled for scrutiny and yet again this smacks of being told, ‘trust me I’m a doctor’.
The patient, unfortunately, is on the deathbed.
Levers like Bid Window 4 are being accelerated and it is envisaged that the rapid decline in renewable energy prices will give new momentum to Bid Window 5. The problem remains that these will not dent the cumulative loss of power due to breakdowns and nor will it really assist in the management of peak and mid-merit demand in the short term.
The minister has repeated the president’s SONA statement that it will shortly be possible for municipalities in financially good standing to purchase electricity from independent power producers. The problem here is the paucity, across the board, of municipalities in good standing. Additionally, the debt owed to municipalities far outweighs the debt municipalities owe to Eskom.
The nation was waiting with bated breath for visibility of tangible and costed measures to deal with the problem of Eskom. Sadly, very little was forthcoming.
The DA will not allow the nation to be kept in the dark in this fashion. Not only did the President ‘blow it’ as DA leader, John Steenhuisen remarked about the SONA address but Minister Mboweni appears to now be complicit in snuffing out the lights.