The theft of cables and damage to installations continue to pose a serious challenge to the supply of electricity. This was revealed by Public Enterprises Deputy Minister Phumulo Masualle.

He responded to questions from MPs during a virtual briefing to Parliament’s Joint Committee on Public Enterprises and Communications.

The Department appeared before the committee to present its annual performance plan.

Masualle says Eskom is working with various law enforcement agencies to deal with the problem.

“The thieving of the cables as well as the damages done to installations, power stations including transformers that help to bring electricity closer to the people; that challenge continues to really bedevil the work of ensuring access to electricity in many parts of the country. It has caused for the mobilisation, not only of the State organs, even the prosecutorial function, the police; to be really brought together to focus on this matter as it is a serious dent on the economy as a whole. So, it is a matter that even Eskom is engaged in a variety of strategies. So, the issue of illegal connections impacts negatively on the stability of the system, the grid etc.”

DA member of the Public Enterprises Committee Chaleb Chachalia had questions about why the country still suffered power cuts when businesses were largely not operating during the hard lockdown.

“Why did load shedding occur during COVID-19 when we had the lowest demand since 2007. Is the maintenance programme not working? Surely that requires a focus. Then there is the question of debt. The Department of Minerals and Energy will assign 2 000 megawatts in PPAs to Eskom. How is Eskom going to deal with the increased debt situation? These are the pertinent questions. Yes, they apply to the entities, but the monitoring of these entities needs to take these issues and put time on the table and dissect them in a very clear and concise way. Otherwise, we are just sitting here looking at presentation after presentation, ticking a few boxes and say oh my God we failed again.”