President Cyril Ramaphosa played a central role in the systematic collapse of Eskom which has led to the electricity crisis our nation is currently experiencing. Therefore his “apology” for the persistent rolling black outs across the country this weekend is not good enough.
Rather, Ramaphosa should take personal responsibility for his role in this crisis, and take immediate and decisive action to transform our energy sector. South Africans are rightly angry with power cuts and deserve decisive action from government – not empty words.
President Ramaphosa is desperately trying to dissociate himself from issues that he played an active role in by simply offering an apology. Ramaphosa apologised for corruption, yet he sat idly while the ANC looted the public coffers under President Jacob Zuma. He is now apologizing for power blackouts despite him having a powerful seat at the decision-making table for many years.
The inconvenient truth is that as Deputy President from 2014, Ramaphosa knew – and was part of – many decisions that have brought South Africa’s energy sector to its knees. As far back as March 2015, he was there and headed up a ‘war room’ that failed to oversee Eskom’s turnaround. He was there during the board and executive appointments that helped collapse Eskom. He was there as Head of the ANC’s deployment committee from 2012, deploying the likes of allowed Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh and Matshela Koko to Eskom. And he was there as the Chairperson of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs).
The President must do more than offer a mere word of apology – he must act to turn this dire situation around.
We desperately need change in our energy sector in order to stabilise the economy and create much need jobs for our people. The President should immediately:
- Privatise the generation entities of Eskom, allowing a diverse range of energy to enter the grid, increasing competition and lowering costs;
- Instruct Eskom to immediately freeze the build on the last two outstanding units at Kusile, and instead look to bring on more IPPs to provide power. Eskom’s debt is spiralling due to cost overruns on the two big coal builds, while the units are not running at full capacity due to design and build flaws.
- Reaffirm Eskom’s engineering and maintenance employees as an “essential service” that cannot enter into strike action;
- Install major smart meters for municipalities to force municipalities to collect revenue timeously; and
- Allow well-functioning metros to source energy directly from independent energy suppliers.
Come 8 May, South Africans will have the chance to cut the ANC’s power and usher in real change at the ballot box.