THE BIG INTERVIEW | Pravin Gordhan on Eskom, politics and how deep the rot goes

2020-01-22 20:04
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan sat down with News24 Assistant Editor Pieter du Toit and made it very clear that he gets his marching orders from President Cyril Ramaphosa and no one else. He said he wants to be left alone to do his job, and added he is “executing the president’s project”. But the rot at Eskom runs deep. Read our coverage of the conversation here:
pravin_biginterview

Steely Gordhan to his enemies: I am executing the president's project, leave me alone

Gordhan said his motto in 2016, when National Treasury was under assault from state capture formations, was that he wanted to be left alone to do his job. "I said: 'Let me do my job.' It's the same now: Let me do my job so that South Africans can benefit from it. But we're going to need a hell of a lot of help."

He added that he is acting on a mandate given to him by President Cyril Ramaphosa. "I am executing his project. He has set out what we need to do in various state of the nation addresses. Various resolutions of the ANC also set out what must happen, including the Nasrec resolutions. We are delivering on that."

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ANALYSIS | Gordhan, De Ruyter on Eskom crisis: 'We've got this'

News24 interviewed Gordhan and André De Ruyter about the Eskom crisis separately, within hours of one another, and the similarities in their outlooks are striking. Between them, they share responsibility for keeping the lights on. Should things not improve at Eskom, it will be one of them – or perhaps both – who get the axe, and the historic footnote "failed the nation".

The problems they face are ghastly in their complexity and horrific in their scale: decades of neglect and poor planning, brand new power stations apparently not fit for purpose, unions militantly opposed to change, entrenched interests fighting to keep their grip on enormous flows of money, and ever-shifting political landscape.

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Gordhan: I have confidence in Eskom’s De Ruyter

Gordhan said Eskom remains in critical condition and that De Ruyter will do what’s necessary to investigate and effect repairs to the whole of Eskom’s value and supply chain.

Looking at the nuts and bolts Gordhan explained that he and his team went to see exactly how a power station functions and what is needed to keep it operational. That meant identifying and investigating every part of the supply chain which keeps a power station going.

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You are paying 4 times more for electricity because of stealing at Medupi and Kusile

South Africans are paying up to four times more for electricity than a decade ago – and that’s to finance stealing and cost overruns at the Medupi and Kusile power stations.

Gordhan called numbers and statistics comparing Eskom of a decade ago with present-day Eskom "atrocious", saying tariff increases over that period mean ordinary South Africans are paying four times more than they used to.

"The numbers are atrocious. The amount of electricity Eskom produces is marginally higher. The demand is falling by about 1% per year. The cost of electricity has gone up more than four times. How could you sell the same amount (of electricity) but you’re earning four times more than ten years ago?

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EXCLUSIVE | We interview Eskom CEO André de Ruyter: Big changes are coming

In an exclusive interview with and Business Insider SA , the new CEO of Eskom, André de Ruyter said that he will ask Eskom's board for a mandate to "implement some significant changes" at the embattled utility.

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