Deputy president David Mabuza has thrown his weight behind Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter, saying he is doing "very, very well" and sending the right message to South Africans.
Responding to questions from Members of Parliament in the National Council of Provinces chamber on Tuesday afternoon, Mabuza praised De Ruyter for being uncompromising and consistent in his efforts to ensure the ailing power utility has the financial capacity to continue functioning and collect what it is owed.
"I must commend the new CEO. He is doing very, very well. The message is consistent. Maintenance, maintenance. Even if it means that you have to put putting certain power stations out of operations, do that. This is the message that South Africans have been waiting [for] and now we can see that the CEO is on the right track," said Mabuza.
Last week, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa had to temporarily suspend its service in Cape Town when Eskom cut electricity supply to four Prasa sub-stations, citing an overdue R4 million payment. Thousands of commuters were left stranded.
The power utility has also taken a tougher stance on defaulting municipalities, announcing power cuts if the culprits don't pay up.
'I can't cry about what others are doing'
When Economic Freedom Fighters MP asked the deputy president if Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan misled him or President Cyril Ramaphosa on the state of Eskom, with a view to ultimately privatising the utility, Mabuza would not be drawn.
"Maybe I'm naïve, but I can't cry about what other people are doing every day. We have an obligation to do our work in a transparent manner. All I am aware of is that there is friction between the EFF and the Minister of Public Enterprises," Mabuza said.
He further said Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe's Integrated Resource Plan would ultimately ensure security of power supply by developing adequate generation capacity to meet demand. The rollout of independent power production was progressing, he said.
"Renewable energy IPPs [are] already in the process of implementation, with windows 1 to 4 already operational. [Bid] Windows 1 to 3 are already supplying power to the grid. We are waiting on those in window 4 to commit to how much they can give," Mabuza said.
He said the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy was also in the process of finalising consultation with Eskom, Treasury and the Department of Public Enterprises on the timetable and modalities for the procurement of bid window 5.