As loadshedding worsens, Ramokgopa’s ‘Father Christmas’ moment contradicts National Treasury debt relief package

Issued by Samantha Graham-Maré MP – DA Shadow Minister of Electricity
22 Nov 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP

National Treasury should call the Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, to order after he recklessly promised bonuses to Eskom staff, contradicting the terms of Treasury’s’ Eskom debt relief package.

One of the conditions for taking over part of Eskom’s debt was that “Eskom may not implement remuneration adjustments that negatively affect its overall financial position and sustainability.” With this clear stipulation, Ramakgopa took it upon himself to play populist politics and make promises about bonus payments when Eskom is clearly unable to pay them.

Promising Eskom workers a bonus while loadshedding strips our economy of billions of rands is crass, thoughtless and potentially dangerous. There simply isn’t any budgetary allocation towards a performance bonus, as it did not form part of Eskom’s the operational plan of for this financial year.

In the last week, the Minister has stated that the general malaise afflicting the Eskom workforce could be addressed by paying performance bonuses. There are several problems with this complete overstep by the Minister.

While the Minister is entitled to engage with the Board of Eskom, he is not the Minister of Public Enterprises under which the staff of Eskom fall. Furthermore, it is not part of the mandate of members of the Executive to take operational decisions, particularly those that have financial implications for an entity.

Never one to allow reality to stand in the way of a fantastic idea, the Minister has suggested the balance of money set aside for diesel for the Open Cycle Gas Turbines could be used for the bonuses.

Despite only R 20 billion of the allocated R 30 billion having been spent on the diesel for the turbines, there still remain 4 months of this financial year. The OCGTs are used to address peak times where the transmission grid is constrained. We know, however, that these turbines, despite being geared to operate at 10%, have been operating at 65% at times during this year. And, despite the ongoing promises of the ANC that the end of loadshedding is imminent, facts indicate that the need for the OCGTs will not diminish any time soon.

If the Minister’s goal is to improve morale, making a promise that he cannot deliver on is not the answer. Instead of diverting attention from the inability of the ANC to fix the energy crisis, the Minister and his team of experts should be following the lead of the DA-led Western Cape and thinking outside of the box to provide innovative mitigation measures to address the loadshedding crisis.

The DA calls on the Minister to put the responsibility of his office ahead of the popularity of his party and stop making baseless statements that further contribute to the disillusionment of South Africans across the country.

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