Eskom reports R18.9 billion net loss

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State-owned power utility Eskom has reported a net loss of R18.9 billion. It also says COVID-19 impacted performance sales with volume down 6.7%.

Announcing the company’s interim results this afternoon, its CEO André de Ruyter also confirmed headcount had been reduced by 4.5%. And despite government support of R56 billion the power utility still has a debt burden which it says has affected their financials.

“We continue to have an unsustainable debt burden, which causes us t0 pay in the past financial year net debt service costs of R31.1 billion. COVID-19, which has become part of the new normal, also affected us quite significantly, particularly during the first half of the year and overall sales volumes were down 6.7%.”

Eskom releases financial results:

Eskom says it is still facing challenges of non payment from municipalities. The power utility has reported that arrears in municipal debt grew by R7.3 billion to R35.3 billion in the current reported financial year ending March 2021.

De Ruyer says, “That number has since the end of the financial year increased further to about R39 billion. So, clearly a solution to non- payment by certain municipalities is a priority for the political task team led by Deputy President David Mabuza.”

Meanwhile, members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) have expressed dissatisfaction with the way Eskom treats them. Committee chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa says the power utility treats them with little due regard by constantly failing to submit presentation documents on time.

He says this makes it practically impossible for members to prepare for meetings.

Scopa’s meeting with Eskom today was due to discuss the annual report of the power utility as well as investigations conducted by the Special Investigating Unit.

However, it ended up being about the late submission of a 127-page presentation document to the committee. The committee says it expected to receive the document last week Thursday but got it less than 24 hours before the start of the meeting, making it practically impossible for members to prepare.

Professor Malegapuru Makgoba says they first submit documents to the Department of Public Enterprises for approval.

“I’m actually angry that we have not been able to meet the deadline that was given to us long ago. I’m not proud of it. I don’t know where it went wrong. But I’m sorry that it happened. But I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

In its defence, the department says it received the document on Friday night from Eskom. It added that there are checks and balances before it is sent to the committee to ensure, among other things, the accuracy of information.

“We probably erred in not asking the committee to give us more time. As can be seen from the pack, it’s quite detailed information that needs to be provided and there are assurance processes that both within Eskom and DPE, that we need to go through to make sure that information shared is accurate and meets with standards of accountability required,” says Director-General of Public Enterprises, Kgathatso Tlhlakudi.

But Committee Chairperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa was having none of that.

Hlengwa says it is increasingly becoming a trend for the power utility to submit documents at the eleventh hour.

Hlengwa, who appeared to be angry with these developments, rejected the apologies.

“I want to say whilst the explanation is noted, the apology is not accepted, precisely because we’ve been down this road before and this was not a new meeting. It was a continuation of a meeting that we had. So, I want to place it on record, we will not be macro-managed by Eskom.”

Scopa Chair Mkuleko Hlengwa says Eskom’s actions are tantamount to malicious compliance and undermining parliamentary processes:

The meeting has been postponed to a date yet to be announced.