Eskom, Mantashe spurn DA electricity plan

…..article dated 20 October 2020…..

State zaps idea of independent power purchaser…..

Minister Pravin Gordhan put any idea of private sector participation in an independent power purchasing plan firmly to bed by labelling any proposals as a plan that was “superfluous and an idea totally lacking in innovation”.   Also, indicated future government policy on the subject by stating his ministry “had no intention of losing 100% control of any national asset.”

Looking stern, he told all MPs of a joint Energy and Public Enterprises Portfolio Committee, “We would not encourage any support of the idea”, thus rejecting the proposal outlined in Natasha Mazzone’s Independent Electricity Management Operator Bill, a private members Bill tabled by the Democratic Alliance in Parliament nearly two years ago, when load shedding first occurred in South Africa.

At the time

For an independent part-state and part-government entity to buy electricity and sell to Eskom was originally seen as a possible way of splitting up Eskom and better controlling the Eskom dominance on price factors, thereby introducing competitive factors into the sluggish SOE. The matter had gone as far as being proposed to NERSA for a policy decision whilst government stalled on the issue.

However, some indication of what was about to happen to the proposal was indicated earlier when both CEO of Eskom, Andre de Ruyter, and Minister of Energy, Gwede Mantashe, failed to pitch at short notice to a similar energy portfolio committee meeting to discuss the Bill.   Minister Mantashe was obviously embarrassed since it was not his job to axe the idea, strictly a public enterprises matter. Subsequently, de Ruyter appeared in Parliament to detail Eskom’s overall strategy, the plan being to split Eskom as it is into three stand-alone divisions.

Nailed and confirmed

As the meeting continued,  Minister Gordhan was clear on such intentions and confirmed his intention to support de Ruyter’s plan which did not separate out power transactions.  He told MPs that the road map as already defined would stand, a plan adopted in thirty major countries of placing all electricity providers on an equal footing and then selling to a state-owned entity, which was a power utility split into generation, power supply and transmission.

The only option of discontinuing the Bill will now be put to the originators of the Bill in a further meeting, it is presumed.


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