We owe South Africa an explanation on how Eskom failed – Gordhan

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)
Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Gallo Images / Netwerk24 / Deaan Vivier)

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says government owes South Africans an explanation on how multi-billion projects such as the Medupi and Kusile coal plants failed, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Sunday.

Gordhan was being interviewed on The Fix by host Karima Brown.

During the interview, Gordhan spoke about the current status of Eskom in terms of its financial, operational and technical woes as well as the various problems that government had since discovered in terms of the coal plants that were meant to service SA with enough electricity.

This after Eskom announced a week ago that load shedding would commence again for the first time since December. On Monday, for the first time in its history, Eskom announced it would implement Stage 4 load shedding due to further plant failures.Load shedding then continued for much of the week. Eskom, however, announced yesterday that the probability of load shedding was unlikely over the next few days.

“Mudipe and Kusile have a long history,” Gordhan said during the interview. “Choices were made at the time when we thought the private sector will come in. We hear that Eskom in fact had the skills at the time, then lost those skills and then took on these projects – we would need to verify this but that’s the view,” he said, adding that they were still looking into what exactly went wrong with the construction of the coal plants.

Gordhan has previously said they were “badly designed” while other experts have since pointed out that Eskom should never have taken on the mega projects to begin with due to its enormous complexity.

Gordhan said they also need to interrogate whether Eskom got the best deal out of the initial contract, among other things. 

“We owe the public an explanation for what went wrong – with a view to fixing it as we go forward,” he said.

Asked about accountability in terms of when there would be consequences about the failure of Eskom, Gordhan said, “I think we all know it wasn’t just Eskom that was captured but also law enforcement agencies…there is no shortage of forensic reports, the time is now for the Hawks to act.

"It’s not just government but law enforcement agencies must come to the party now.”

He said the public often forgot that President Cyril Ramaphosa could not himself “interfere” as his job was to “ensure [that the country had] vibrant, ethical institutions”.

“We have an interesting contest going on right now in the country – on the one hand we have those who want to build a solid future and on the other side, a group of people only interested in themselves for one reason or another,” he said. 

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