Eskom to haunt new Parly, as DA calls for debate on its 'financial crisis'

(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)
(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP)

It seems the ghost of the fifth Parliament will return to haunt the new Parliament, as the DA intends to write to the new speaker to have Eskom's "financial crisis" debated by the National Assembly.

The DA's Natasha Mazzone on Sunday issued a statement indicating that the party wants the sixth Parliament to continue the work of the previous Parliament in addressing challenges at Eskom. Mazzone said that Eskom's financial burden is being carried by taxpayers, who ultimately will have to foot the bill of the power utility.

"The South African taxpayer, already burdened with rising electricity costs and flatlining economy, cannot be expected to keep pouring billions of rands into the Eskom blackhole, even as evidence continues to mount on the entity’s terminal decline," Mazzone said.

"The 6th Parliament has an obligation to ensure that it works to resolve the challenges that have kept Eskom in the red and threatened to send the country on a financial ruin," she added.

This is not the first time Mazzone has called for a debate on the power utility.

In February this year, the National Assembly debated the energy crisis after Mazzone wrote to former speaker Baleka Mbete. At the time Eskom had reintroduced load shedding.

However, political parties used the debate to canvass ahead of the elections by throwing blame at the ANC for the mismanagement at the entity. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan chastised MPs for hijacking the debate and reminded them it was intended to find concrete solutions to Eskom's problems, before punting the ANC as best positioned to solve problems at Eskom.

At a briefing in April, ahead of the elections, Gordhan said load shedding could not be ruled out entirely. If needed Stage 1 load shedding would be implemented up until August, Fin24 reported. Eskom had not implemented shedding leading up to the elections.

At the same briefing Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza said that remaining work to complete Medupi and Kusile power stations will cost R36bn.

In her statement Mazzone said that South Africans are being asked to pay for the poor project management of Eskom's build projects and years of mismanagement at the power utility. Mazzone was part of the previous portfolio committee on public enterprises, which was regularly briefed on challenges at the entity - both financial and operational. 

At a sitting of the portfolio committee in February, Eskom officials said that cost overruns of the build programme had added onto Eskom's financial burden, Fin24 reported. The entity was facing a debt burden of R420bn at the time.

The DA also wants those implicated in the mismanagement of Eskom to face the law. "The DA is urging our law enforcement agencies to ensure that all those who are implicated in the industrial scale corruption that took place at Eskom, and elsewhere in government, are given an opportunity to have their day in court," Mazzone said.

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