Parliamentary ruling imposes blackout on Eskom debate

Staff Writer | Jun 17, 2019
Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise has refused a Democratic Party (DA) request for a debate of national importance on fixing crippled national power generator Eskom.

A parliamentary debate on solutions ‘that will rescue the power utility cannot wait for a time of our convenience or else it will be too late’, said DA energy spokesperson Natasha Mazzone.

Mazzone said: ‘It cannot be business as usual for this 6th Parliament while the debt-ridden Eskom continues to be engulfed in corruption and mismanagement, posing the biggest single threat to our country’s economy.’

Her statement followed National Assembly Speaker Modise’s refusal to allow parliament to debate the plight of Eskom as a matter of national importance.

Mazzone said: ‘Eskom has kept our economy down on its knees; with unacceptably high levels of unemployment and job losses due to episodes of rolling blackouts we cannot let the Eskom threat to our economy continue unabated.

‘The utility is the single biggest threat to our economy, therefore, Parliament must use its mandate to perform oversight and debate the true extent of rot at the entity.’

Mazzone added: ‘There is no straightforward or easy way of dealing with the Eskom crisis, however a debate on solutions that will rescue the power utility cannot wait for a time of our convenience or else it will be too late.’

When the DA gave notice last month of its intention to request a debate on the power utility’s stricken state, Mazzone commented: ‘The South African taxpayer, already burdened with rising electricity costs and flatlining economy, cannot be expected to keep pouring billions of rands into the Eskom blackhole, even as evidence continues to mount on the entity’s terminal decline.’

Eskom, which is R400 billion in debt, recently lost its latest CEO, when highly respected Phakamani Hadebe resigned, citing the impact of the demands of the job on his health.

Economist Nazmeera Moola noted at the time of his resignation in May that ‘the dysfunctionality of South African politics meant that Hadebe was not able to implement the changes needed to stabilise the utility’s finances’.

Moola offered the example of Hadebe’s plan to ‘control expenses without cutting jobs by keeping wages flat in 2018’. Faced with a union revolt, however, ‘both President (Cyril) Ramaphosa and Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan quickly blinked. The result was an unaffordable 7.5% wage increase.’


If you like what you have just read, become a Friend of the IRR if you aren’t already one by SMSing your name to 32823 or clicking here. Each SMS costs R1. Terms & Conditions apply

comments powered by Disqus