Tag Archive | war room

Shedding light on Eskom

Editorial……  week ending 30 April 2015

Breaking up old empires……

Lynne BrownOne parliamentary meeting we did attend with anticipation in the last few days but have not reported to our clients , despite the media attention, was the appearance of minister of public enterprise Lynne Brown with her public enterprises team for the scheduled presentation of the department’s strategic 5-year and annual performance plan to the public enterprises portfolio committee.  A non-event if ever there was one.

Minister Brown is a hard working lady and managed to fit this in out of respect for Parliament.

Unfortunately, she had absolutely nothing to add to what has been said in the media, adding yet once again that depressing qualification made in every government statement that  “loading shedding will continue for the next two years in order to avoid a total blackout”.

Doors need opening

One comment she did make was worth noting, however,  She said on the Eskom issue, “I have a eskom logoresponsibility as shareholder representative but cannot interfere from a political level in the management and operations of the SOCs.   However, if matters go wrong, I have oversight responsibility.” 

In our humble view, oversight responsibility is not enough if action is called for, especially if every minister has to sign a performance agreement to deliver on his or her appointment.  She also bemoaned the fact that, as we write, that no definitive “war room” statement has been made to tell the country what is going on.

Going some…

The minister commented during the meeting, almost as an aside, that Eskom is and always had been the same animal for some 50 years now, employing at the moment some 42,000 people. Change had to come, she said.

We spot legislation in the making, in the same way that minister Gordhan Pravin must push his way into local government and make changes.  Management talent for a three tier government and six massive state owned utilities is running short.

Other articles in this category or as background
Energy gets war room status – ParlyReportSA
Eskom goes to the brink with energy – ParlyReportSA

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Eskom goes to the brink with energy

Editorial…..

What war room?….

black bulbFor those who have been associated with a war, they will know that a war room is a pretty busy place. However, one gets the impression that the South African war room, mandated to sort out Eskom and energy planning, has no red telephone and little understanding of working overtime in a time of crisis.

Spokesperson, Mac Maharaj or his  replacement, has certainly issued no statements headed with such a title, the President being busy visiting Egypt, Algeria and Angola with the deputy president calling in on the Kingdom of Lesotho.  President Mugabe has come and gone, more presidential visits are planned…… and the World Bank report on South Africa has been published.

Teetering on the edge

Meanwhile, the Eskom issue is still boiling over, the question of the fourth round of IPP tenders and more to come has been announced by the minister of energy but little evidence exists that a war room exists, let alone a high powered advisory council to advise the war room.  Parliament was, of course, on Easter recess which added to the uncanny political silence on urgent matters, particularly the energy issue, although the story at Medupi with a return to work and the appointment of a new CEO at Eskom seems  calming.

At last public servants are re-appearing from extended Easter holidays but the so-called war room gives the impression of having bunkered down. Hopefully the report in the coming weeks on Eskom, as South Africa tackles some of the other serious matters facing the country, will not only show with what went wrong but what the war room intends to do about it.

Perhaps a picture of the war room sitting and debating might actually help us believe there is one.

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Energy gets war room status

Cabinet creates energy crisis committee…..

Editorial…….

eskom logoIn retrospect, for the cabinet having had to resort to establishing an energy war room is probably a good thing inasmuch that a meeting of minds appears to have taken place at all levels of the ANC Alliance on energy matters. The situation is indeed serious.

The message from business and industry that the “energy crunch” is not only immensely threatening to the economy appears to have got through, accompanied probably by the realisation that so many regular failures, power or otherwise, are threatening to the ability of the ANC to stay in power.

Foggy outlook

Perceived at first as an issue mainly affecting the rural poor, the failure of Eskom to deliver on most of its promises; the bumbling of the department of energy on independent power producer parameters and the to-ing and fro-ing of cabinet on the adoption of nuclear energy into the energy mix, has been somewhat of a pantomime.

For months we have been reporting from Parliament on the ambivalence of Eskom and the reluctance of the department of energy and public enterprises to chart a course on energy.

The whole truth…

NA with carsHowever, what is a matter of concern is the fact that in all those lengthy power point presentations and detailed reports to parliamentary committees that we have witnessed or read, the ball has been completely dropped on the energy issue and badly so.   At the very least Parliament were not given the full facts, particularly in the case of Eskom, thus threatening the parliamentary oversight process.

Deputy President Ramaphosa has now been designated to oversee the turnaround of SAA, SAPO and Eskom. The cabinet statement says regarding this, “Working with the relevant ministries, SAA will be transferred from the department of public enterprises to national treasury. The presidency will closely monitor the implementation of the turnaround plans of these three critical SOCs that are drivers of the economy.”

Maybe next year

It is comforting therefore to some extent to know that such a “war office” has been established and that cabinet has adopted a five-point plan to address the electricity challenges facing the country but it just seems incorrect that a relatively empty, tired statement such as “more cross cutting meetings to meet the challenges facing  the country will be adopted” was all that could be added in the form of action before ministers disappeared for the Christmas recess, including, we understand, the contractor’s staff at Medupi.

elec gridIt seems that nobody is in charge over the same period nor interested enough to be there and nobody is really looking much beyond January 15, when South Africa starts switching on again.

 

Perhaps in 2015, some reality will return to South African politics and amongst the governing party. They may learn that there is a direct relationship between being in power and keeping the power on and we foresee many more direct confrontations on this issue and others in Parliament during the coming year.

 

 

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