‘Break up wasteful Eskom’

Imraan Valodia
Imraan Valodia

Johannesburg - Embattled power utility Eskom should be broken up and unbundled as it is wasting money.

These were the words of Imraan Valodia, professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, as he addressed a packed venue at the Wits School of Governance this week during the OR Tambo Debate Series event.

“What Eskom is doing is taking our money and throwing it down the tube,” he said.

“I think Eskom has to be broken up. You can’t have a large power utility, especially the size of the one that we have, that deals with both the generation of power and also the transmission of power,” Valodia said.

He also said government needed to think thoroughly about the role of state-owned entities, including the current structure of the SAA.

READ: Gordhan launches scathing attack on Eskom

Last week, Eskom cancelled its results presentations at the eleventh hour, allegedly after auditors raised irregularities at the power company.

Some of Eskom’s controversies recently include the R30 million payment it wanted to give its former CEO Brian Molefe as a payout after it emerged that he had not actually resigned from the company.

Last month, the Johannesburg High Court set aside a R4 billion tender Eskom had awarded to Chinese firm Dongfang to replace a boiler at the Duvha power station in Mpumalanga.

A recent report on the Gupta-linked Trillian Consulting found that Eskom paid it R266 million without invoices or proof that work was done.

Another Gupta company, Tegeta, was paid R600 million prepayment for coal – money that the company used to buy Optimum Coal mine with the assistance of Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

Valodia, who addressed the crowd that included former finance minister Trevor Manuel, former speaker of the National Assembly Max Sisulu, Economic Freedom Fighters MP Floyd Shivambu, and several academics, said he was not advocating for the privatisation of Eskom, but simply its unbundling.

READ: Eskom promises to reveal (almost) all

In his input, Shivambu said the popular term “radical economic transformation” did not exist and was merely a term used by politicians at will.

“Radical economic transformation means nothing. It means absolutely nothing. Malusi [Gigaba, the finance minister] came to the standing committee on finance and in his main presentation he said, ‘we are in pursuit of radical economic transformation’, and when we asked him what do you mean by that, he said the ANC was still going to resolve on it at the policy conference.

"The policy conference has come and gone and there is no resolution on what radical economic transformation is. It means nothing.

"It depends who woke up where, what day and how they feel that day. Different politicians in the ANC just call it whatever they want to call it.

"There is no such thing as radical economic transformation,” he said.

He likened the use of the term by the governing party for factional politics.

Gigaba was initially meant to attend, but pulled out at the eleventh hour, citing illness.

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