President Cyril Ramaphosa has reiterated that the unbundling of Eskom is not the path to privatisation. Ramaphosa says it is rather a move towards stemming the need for power cuts and increasing investor confidence.
He was responding to a debate on his State of the Nation Address in the National Assembly on Thursday.
The country is in its fifth day of rolling power outages.
Several opposition parties and trade unions believe the unbundling will lead to massive job losses. But the President says the unbundling of Eskom is aimed at aligning it with international best practices.
He says this is but one of the strategies aimed at turning around the parastatal.
“It is not a path to privatisation, I repeat, it is not a path to privatisation. Restructuring is intended to ensure security of electricity supply for the country which is critical to building on the positive investor sentiment and confidence essential for investment required so sorely so that we can create jobs.”
Ramaphosa says Eskom has to prioritise the maintenance of its infrastructure and stem the need for load shedding.
“There is no single solution to the problems at Eskom. One of the tasks that are essential to ensuring secure electricity supply is a dedicated and detailed focus on maintenance. An effective, comprehensive maintenance programme properly funded and led by skilled personnel is the one thing that stands between reliable electricity supply and darkness.”
He conceded that consultations with other stakeholders on this process was insufficient.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is calling on trade unions to refrain from threatening to prevent the unbundling of Eskom into three entities. Party leader Mmusi Maimane has described the current power outages by Eskom as a crisis which requires all South Africans, including unions, to act in the best interest of the country.
In his State-of-the-Nation, President Cyril Ramaphosa, revealed plans to unbundle Eskom into Generation, Transmission and Distribution.
However, the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) says the unbundling is posing a massive threat to jobs. Maimane says it is time for labour unions to put the country first.
“What we have to make the unions realise is that they either are a partner with South Africa or a partner with the ANC. If they partner with the ANC-they will plunge our economy into crises. If they partner with South Africa, if we diversify the energy sector, we can create more jobs not less. We can ensure that some of the skills that have BEE employed in the entities such as Eskom can be put into other power producers that come on board. Either we lose some or we lose all. But we are making choices between worse and much worse, unions need to come on board and recognise this and I will call a multi-disciplinary task team which contains unions, that contains government, that contains private sector and say let’s say all three of us as entities realised this one thing.”