Business shows support for Eskom leadership amid load shedding crisis

Eskom CEO André de Ruyter.
Eskom CEO André de Ruyter.
Gallo Images/Business Day/Freddy Mavunda
  • Business and SA’s energy sector have said they support Eskom’s current leadership in in their efforts to get SA out of prolonged load shedding. 
  • This is as Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe pushed for Eskom management to fix operational issues or step down.
  • Business also called on government to assist Eskom with funding for diesel, which is burnt to prevent higher stages of load shedding.
  • For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.

Business and SA’s energy sector have emphasised their support for Eskom’s current leadership, who have come under fire for the latest prolonged bout of load shedding, especially from Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.

"We strongly urge that it is a time for calm and well-executed actions, and we express our support for Eskom leadership and staff who are managing through this crisis," the Energy Council of South Africa, Business Unity South Africa (BUSA), and Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) said in a joint statement.

"We call on business, labour, and civil society to help wherever possible by reducing electricity demand to relieve pressure on the grid."

As SA hit Stage 6 load shedding this week, Mantashe pushed for Eskom management to fix the operational issues or step down.

READ | Mantashe: Eskom agitates for 'overthrow of the state' by not dealing with load shedding

Aside from claiming on Thursday that Eskom was "actively agitating for the overthrow of the state" through load shedding, Mantashe has launched attacks on CEO André de Ruyter in recent months, and previously told News24 that De Ruyter should be replaced with someone who has technical capabilities.

De Ruyter has repeatedly said that corruption, mismanagement, and lack of planning and maintenance have brought the power utility to this point. He has also reiterated numerous times that there was an urgent need to add new capacity to the grid.

Eskom also says it has run out of funds for diesel, to run its Open Cycle Gas Turbines (OCGTs), which are used to prevent higher stages of load shedding. The utility burnt through R12 billion in diesel this year, which is double its initial budget, due to significant usage of the OCGTs.

READ | 'Worst nightmare': Eskom's desperate scramble to avoid Stage 7

The Energy Council, BLSA and BUSA also asked government on Thursday to deal with the diesel problem.

"We … call on government to fund adequate and reliable diesel supply for our national peaking generators, which are critical to ensuring that Eskom can best manage a stable grid and mitigate a further escalation in load shedding levels.

"Although this is a short-term measure, it is an important bridge for the ongoing maintenance work and unplanned outages over the next six months."

National Treasury said in a statement on Thursday that the nature of the budget process made it difficult to consider new funding requests, "especially large requests that are made at short notice".

"Eskom did not apply for funding through the budget process and Eskom management should therefore take all necessary steps to ensure they secure the diesel needed to avert severe load shedding.

"That said, the National Treasury and the minister of finance are acutely aware of the impact that Eskom’s diesel shortages may have on already severe levels of load shedding. For that reason, the National Treasury will continue with the engagements with the Department of Public Enterprises and Eskom aimed at identifying solutions to this matter."

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