Eskom Board concerned about political interference – Committee

Cost of coal supplies is killing the SOE, says Sfiso Buthelezi

Standing Committee on Appropriations hears that Eskom’s challenges extend far and wide

30 October 2019

The Standing Committee on Appropriations (SCOA) yesterday met with Eskom’s Board, as a continuation of its oversight visit two weeks ago. The meeting was held to share the committee’s observations and expectations with the Board, and for the committee to hear the Board’s perspective on progress and challenges, as well as the strategies adopted by the Board to address them. 

The committee stressed that the role of the Eskom is critical in the socio-economic development of the country. The committee said that all stakeholders, including Parliament, the SCOA, Cabinet, the Department of Public Enterprises, National Treasury, the Board, Eskom’s executive management and trade unions want to see Eskom back on its feet.

The Chairperson of the committee, Mr Sfiso Buthelezi, said: “Government is walking the talk by going an extra mile to recapitalise Eskom, and the expectation, therefore, is that everyone must put their shoulder to the wheel.” The Board and the shareholder represented by the Minister Public Enterprises have a legally defined responsibility. Organised Labour and Eskom’s service providers share this responsibility.

The committee questioned the efficient use of resources and the role played by suppliers of coal and contractors, especially at Medupi and Kusile. Mr Buthelezi said: “We cannot justify what some of the coal suppliers are making at Eskom. That is killing Eskom. We encourage the Ministers and the Board to renegotiate these contracts for the benefit of Eskom,” Mr Buthelezi said. The committee further emphasised the role of communities and the importance of paying for services. 

The Board raised concerns about political interference. The committee responded by saying that everyone should be allowed to do his/her job, Board and management included. However, with taxpayers bailing out Eskom, there is a role for government to ensure that Eskom does not fail in its mandate.

The committee stressed that the recent R59 billion to support Eskom is not a blank cheque, Stringent conditions are attached and the Board must account for these. The committee emphasised the importance of creating stability at management level and wanted to know when the chief executive officer will be appointed. The committee was told that three names have been given to the Minister for finalisation.

Issued by Felicia Lombard, Media Officer, Parliamentary Communication Services, 30 October 2019