Former Eskom Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter says the bulk of the country’s load shedding problems are beyond Eskom’s scope. He says over the past 25 years, the main drivers that have led to the power crisis were out of Eskom’s control.
The former Eskom CEO says the rolling blackouts that South Africa is experiencing have been at least 25 years in the making. He says the bulk of the problems which have led to this point is entirely out of Eskom’s control.
Eskom is responsible for generating electricity and its responsibility is to ensure that it has sufficient supply to distribute to the country. But de Ruyter says this has proven to be a difficult task for the power utility because of among others the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, lack of maintenance or the backlog thereof, municipalities’ debt and state capture and corruption.
He also states that some of the decisions that hinder Eskom’s performance are due to the government not taking action when it needed to.
One law expert says, according to the Electricity Act, municipalities are the primary distributors of electricity. But those very municipalities hinder Eskom’s ability to carry out some of its obligations. They owe the power utility over R50 billion.
“In terms of the legislation and some case law and this is well, the municipalities are primarily responsible for delivering electricity but not exclusively, Eskom also directly delivers to some players,” says Pierre de Vos, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Cape Town.
The government has since been taken to court, in an attempt to have its response to load shedding declared unconstitutional and a breach of fundamental human rights.
“One cannot say the one is not the responsibility of the government but to what extent this is a constitutional obligation because it’s not explicitly written into the constitution that there’s a right to electricity that is open for debate, there’s some academic right to say there is such right that you can apply but we don’t know yet because the courts have not finally spoken on this,” de Vos adds.
In the affidavit, de Ruyter also mentions that since 1998, there has been insufficient investment in new generation capacity. A responsibility vested in the Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy.