Task-team governing won’t cut it


The problems at Eskom came to a head late this week when Standard & Poor’s ­relegated it to junk status.

The ratings agency said it had less confidence in ­Eskom because of the suspension last week of four of its senior executives.

Last year, Moody’s also cut Eskom’s long-term credit rating to junk status.

Beyond this, the most serious crisis for Eskom has been its inability over the past few months to supply enough electricity to the country, resulting in load shedding, which negatively affects businesses and homes.

So it is a moot point that government has to act ­urgently on Eskom. But the measures to fix the problems have looked hasty and follow a familiar pattern.

Government seemed to have deferred the problems to more task teams – to the point that we are no longer sure who is responsible for what.

We have seen a task team investigating the goings-on at the SA Revenue Service; police have a reference group looking at management issues; the National Prosecuting Authority has appointed a ­retired judge – who seems to have been ignored – to investigate its head, Mxolisi Nxasana.

In December last year, Cabinet announced it had devised a five-point plan to deal with the electricity ­crisis, and set up a “war room” to implement it.

All attempts were being made to ensure the tight energy situation was overcome, government told us.

Eskom’s board last week set up an independent ­inquiry on the current status of Eskom’s business and its challenges.

The board said it deemed it prudent to seek an independent view on the status of the poor performance of plants, delays in bringing the new-generation plant on stream and cash flow challenges.

On Thursday, Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa ­appointed an advisory panel to provide an independent view on the effectiveness of the measures proposed to turn Eskom around.

As if to intentionally add to the confusion, his statement explained that the advisory panel he appointed on Eskom was different from the ­Ministerial Council on Energy, whose members will be announced soon by the energy department.

It’s almost inevitable that the lines will cross along the way. Ordinary citizens, business and international investors are all hoping for a solution to Eskom’s ­malaise. But announcements of more structures are not enough to assure us the problem is being fixed.

Ramaphosa and the relevant ministers should not lose us in a maze of bureaucracy.

We hope to see the results soon, rather than hear more announcements about further task teams.

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