ANC's Mashatile urges private investment into Eskom, other state firms

Paul Mashatile (Pic: Bloomberg, courtesy of Teddy Mitchener)
Paul Mashatile (Pic: Bloomberg, courtesy of Teddy Mitchener)

ANC Treasurer-General Paul Mashatile on Thursday invited private investors to take up equity stakes in state-owned companies, saying Eskom was "one of the places this can happen".

"We need to make sure we can restructure and get Eskom to operate efficiently... and one of the things we've agreed to do as the ruling party; we want to invite private investors into our parastatals," Mashatile said at a South Africa-Russia investment panel discussion in Rosebank. 

Mashatile said the ANC had debated whether to privatise SOCs, but decided instead to invite participation from private equity partners.

"Some of our parastatals, of course, are looking for loans...but where we can get investors to come in, we will appreciate that," Mashatile said.

His remarks come days after Eskom declared a R2.3bn loss and R19bn in irregular expenditure for the 2017/2018 financial year.

"Eskom is one of the biggest parastatals that we have.

"They are actually the engine driving the economy... There is a lot of discussion how you can make Eskom operate efficiently," said Mashatile.

Mashatile echoed his view, expressed earlier this week, that his preference was for Eskom to be broken up into three operating units, dealing with transmission, generation and distribution. However, he said this discussion was still ongoing.

Meanwhile, as Russian President Vladimir Putin landed in South Africa on Thursday morning to attend the 10th annual Brics Summit, underway in Sandton, Mashatile called on Russian companies to increase their presence and investment in SA, saying sectors such as renewable energy and infrastructure development presented opportunities for businesses.

He steered clear of mentioning nuclear power, which President Cyril Ramaphosa has described as currently unaffordable for SA.

Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom was among the bidders for a multi-billion rand nuclear deal with SA, and activists and opposition political parties questioned whether the country was being favoured for the contract.

A high court ruling invalidated a potential nuclear deal with Russia in 2017, and early in 2018, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe confirmed the deal was still off the table.

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