This week’s revelation that the Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, tabled a report which details a R17 billion bailout for Eskom due to an emergency cash problem points to a power utility that is no longer viable and sustainable.
Eskom and other State Owned Enterprises have become a black hole that the South African tax payer needs to constantly fill. This is not simply because these entities have been badly managed, but because they have been used as looting vehicles for the ANC and the politically connected for decades.
The DA has been reliably informed that Eskom is not using the Chinese Development Bank loan and the bailouts for maintenance of our power plants – which are the original sin that led to this crisis. They are using the money to literally pay salaries and keep the lights on by burning through billions of Rands worth of diesel until after the elections.
This means that South Africa will no doubt be plunged into darkness this winter once again as the ANC has misled the public about the gravity of the problems at Eskom.
The reality is that Eskom cannot keep South Africa’s lights on because the business model of the entity is fundamentally broken. The DA has long reached out to the ANC government with solid solutions that would see the entity broken up into sustainable and functioning enterprises. We have proposed a bill that would allow for the introduction of independent power producers that would cheapen the cost of electricity, bring about much needed competition and ensure that South Africa is not being tanked by the black hole that Eskom has become.
But these solutions were never adopted.
To adopt them would be to accept that the past 25 years have seen old infrastructure age, remain unmaintained and now gradually collapse because the public money meant to sustain the entity has been systematically stolen. That is why the ANC government would much rather continue to punish the public by forcing us all to pay for the corruption and mismanagement which has taken place at Eskom. The scramble to keep the lights on until May 8 is not sustainable. It is dishonest and designed to mislead South Africans until it is politically convenient to expose the real rot.
The only way to put an end to this is for South Africans to vote for change on May 8th. Only the DA has a plan to keep the lights on and turn around the mess at Eskom.