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Pravin Gordhan reveals former Eskom bosses have offered...

South Africa

ANC NEC

Ramaphosa seeks solutions to power crisis outside of Eskom following backlash against the party over rolling blackouts

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan during a news conference to announce Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.s full year results at their headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday, July 30, 2019. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) sat for a virtual meeting on Monday in which a number of key issues were discussed – including Eskom and its inability to keep the lights on.

Conversations around load shedding and Eskom took place on Monday during the ANC’s NEC meeting, where Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan explained the weaknesses within the power utility. 

Daily Maverick understands that Gordhan specifically said there is a skills shortage at Eskom and that a plan was needed to upskill current operators and find more experienced technical staff. 

Gordhan is said to have revealed that previous Eskom bosses have reached out to offer their help in finding seasoned technicians with up to 30 years’ experience. 

These former Eskom heads – whose names were not mentioned in the meeting – are believed to be reaching out to former power station managers who are well versed in the operations of the company. They are expected to give feedback this week.

Gordhan suggested that experts be brought in to provide some kind of  mentorship to the workforce to allow them to learn how to perform key competencies. 

During his presentation, Gordhan highlighted a need for the operational side of management to be strengthened so that maintenance work can be improved.

The minister said the utility was investigating the small-scale supply of megawatts through gas turbines and other smaller apparatus as one of the short-term solutions. 

More experts are expected to be brought in to ensure that the quality of coal supplied to Eskom is up to standard so that it does not hamper electricity supply. 

Longer-term solutions would see the introduction of independent power producers and municipalities finding their own means to supply residents with power. 

However, only two municipalities – City of Cape Town and Stellenbosch – have sent through applications to do so.

Read in Daily Maverick: How the City of Cape Town managed to avoid Stage 6 load shedding thanks to hydroelectric scheme 

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa is said to have told the NEC in his opening remarks that decisive action needs to be taken to solve the load shedding crisis, and that it was time for government to look beyond Eskom to find viable solutions.  

Ramaphosa demands decisive action on power crisis after backlash against the party over rolling blackouts
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo: Flickr / GCIS)

Daily Maverick understands that Ramaphosa was concerned about the backlash the party has faced following the rolling blackouts. He said South Africans need reassurance that plans put in place to curb load shedding would actually materialise. 

Ramaphosa said this week’s Cabinet meeting would focus on looking at solutions to the power crisis. 

The president is said to have also addressed the issue of inexperienced management. He suggested an attempt to find people with requisite skills to deal with the crisis, even if it means tracking down experts in other countries to come in and help. 

South Africans have been hit by Stage 6 blackouts in recent days, leaving them without power for hours at a stretch.

While ageing infrastructure continues to be the main reason for the power outages, strike action by Eskom workers has also put a severe strain on the utility’s operations. 

Wage talks have been under way and Eskom has made an offer with a proposed draft agreement. 

On Friday, Numsa secretary-general Irvin Jim said in a statement that they would meet with Eskom management on Tuesday to give feedback in the central bargaining forum.

“We understand that the entire country is watching these talks with keen interest because resolving this is in the public interest, and there is a lot of pressure for us to give a response right away. 

“However, we ask for the public’s patience because we are a worker-controlled union. We have a duty to consult members first, before we give a formal response to Eskom,” Jim said.

Eskom indicated that Stage 6 load shedding would be implemented on Monday afternoon, with varying stages kicking in during the week. 

“As the generation capacity shortages persist over the next few weeks, load shedding will continue to be implemented at various stages,” Eskom said in a statement. 

“Eskom cautions the public that it will still take a few weeks for the generation system to fully recover to pre-strike levels.

“Depending on several possibilities – including the workforce fully returning to work to conduct much-needed repairs to equipment – it is anticipated that load shedding will gradually be lowered to Stage 2 by next weekend.” DM

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All Comments 25

  • For decades technical people have predicted that the blind rollout of BEE policies by the ANC will lead to skills shortages. Finally, almost at disaster stage, the ANC has come to the same realisation. But a sad state of affairs when the president only reacts when “the party” is shown in a bad light. The people can suffer, the economy can suffer, the country can suffer, but the ANC only does anything if “the party” suffers.

  • When Eskom no longer exists, they will still be looking for solutions to sort out the crises. You are oblivious to the crises around you. I thaught Zuma was incompetent but having a president that does not get it is even worse.

  • Did anyone in the ANC in this report mention that they were to blame all along? ZUMA + GUPTAs + GET RID OF COMPETENT PEOPLE? Did I read about a ‘SORRY SOUTH AFRICA?’ NO!!
    ‘After placing people close to them at the head of Eskom, the Guptas now have full control over the coal sector. More than 80% of South Africa’s electricity is produced from coal. The siblings own mines through their company Tegeta, in which Duduzane, one of Zuma’s sons, has a stake. Infiltrating Eskom has allowed the Guptas to sell their coal in very large quantities. They also got Eskom to lower its quality standards.
    The government went so far as to help the Guptas acquire mines, by pressuring the Swiss group Glencore to sell one of its concessions to the Guptas. The siblings did not have the required funds to purchase the mine, so Eskom gave them an advance of about R2bn (about $126m), which was presented as a pre-payment to secure the coal distribution. This means that public funds were diverted to finance private investment.

  • The consequence of cadre deployment is a lack of essential technical and engineering skills. When the ANC was told this years ago they turned their back on the messengers and told them to fokof! In 2024 it’s the voters turn to tell the ANC to fokof!

    • When ramaphosa talks of urgent action, it’s like the anc talking about reforms.

      You just know that nothing is going come of any of this, unless it’s the wrong actions and “reforms” like land grabbing and nationalisation that will take us back 100 years or so.

      The ANC has done nothing to advance this country during its 27 years of government and its not about to begin now

  • F the party’s “image” man. You think Eskom makes your “image” look bad? Don’t be so naive. Pat all those cadre deployments on the back OR, get some balls and remove incompetent staff. No place for screw ups in the current world economic state. Incompetence will stick out like a sore thumb then the pressure is applied, affecting All South Africans. Get your s*it together!

  • Lack of skills in Eskom. Surely not? ANC policy chickens have been roosting for years but they only just noticed. Useless bunch – the lot.

  • Bloody NUMSA , the utter disregard for the economy or the people or any business is beyond speech. To ask the public to be patient shows how totally detached from reality the workers are. They should be locked up for an illegal strike. To use a favourite ANC saying. “It cannot be” that a bunch of thugs and hooligans can be allowed to destroy an entire ecomony!

  • Mr Jim, the public patience you request is non existent due to the ANC government, the Trade Unions and both their inability to think ahead and for the greater good. to now rush out and seek experience that was pushed out by ideology/socialism rather than what was/is the best for this country is the cause. No sir, we are no longer patient and we suggest trade unions operating in essential services be denied the right to strike and ANC should leave government and apolgise to the country for their mis-management.

  • The same union that won’t take any responsibility for it’s striking workers? Please, do me a favour Mr Jim, sit down and shut up. The big boys need to talk and you need to get out of the way. I suspect that the public has no symoathy for you, your workers, Eskom or the pathetic government. Where IS Gwede?

  • is the comment re Escom having to bring back “old” staff not an absolute admission that BBBEE, in one form or another, has failed the people of SA

  • Now suddenly because it is hurting the anc, cr is prepared to do something. Where was he and his war room since 2015? The anc should also give us a racial and deployment breakdown of incompetent employees and of those they are now head-hunting to get Eskom working (and indirectly keeping them in power). When will the anc acknowledge that their AA and BEE and cadre deployment policies are responsible for the mess this country is in??

  • How would this be allowed in terms of our labour employment laws? The optics would be political suicide for CR and the RET would howl bloody murder. Small, independent power generation will help the production issue but who would look after the distribution network which is also maintenence intensive and skills there are lacking too.

    Our Constitution needs upgrading and that would take years. This problem of energy will be with us for years without political courage and I don’t see any of that, do you?

  • The corrupt and selfish unions and the #voetsekANC and their BEE policies have ensured that Eskom lacks the managerial skills. Look at the cadres who were placed at the helm. Its probably even worse down the pecking order. Didn’t the ANC want to blow up power stations during the armed struggle? They’re doing a better job of destroying the economy now than they ever did with their half baked military wing.

  • “it is anticipated that load shedding will gradually be lowered to Stage 2 by next weekend.”

    Two weeks of stage 4-6? Well, 2024 can’t come soon enough.

  • Squirrel is the same guy appointed by Zuma to head up the Eskom “War Room” in 2014! 8 years later he and his hopeless colleagues and “cadres” have achieved NIL but they have effectively sent the economy and country into a death spiral. How and why do we tolerate this BS?

    • Presidency clarifies Deputy President’s role in Eskom War Room
      Wednesday, May 20, 2015
      Pretoria – The Presidency has moved to clarify Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s work in the Eskom War Room.

      Deputy President Ramaphosa’s work in the operation is guided by Cabinet’s five- point plan to address the electricity challenges facing the country, the Presidency said on Wednesday.

      In the wake of loadshedding, President Jacob Zuma in December assigned Deputy President Ramaphosa to oversee the turnaround of Eskom in what was labelled the “war room.”

      The war room – made up of the Departments of Energy, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Public Enterprises, National Treasury, Economic Development, Water and Sanitation and Eskom, as well as technical officials – is expected to look into Eskom’s short- and long-term energy challenges.

      Cabinet at the time adopted a five-point plan to address the lack of sufficient capacity to meet the country’s energy needs.

      The plan covers interventions that Eskom will undertake; harnessing the cogeneration opportunity through the extension of existing contracts with the private sector; accelerating the programme for substitution of diesel with gas to fire up the diesel power plants; launching a coal independent power producer programme; and managing demand through specific interventions within residential dwellings, public and commercial buildings and municipalities through retrofitting energy efficient technologies.

  • ANC NEC talk about Eskom as if they are not the ones that have brought it to it’s knees by grand scale
    looting. They are wanting to pass the buck to heaven knows where? NO ANC you did this, Eskom’s current state is all on you! We must also remember that Ramaphosa was heading up the “war room” for what it was worth. Also Ramaphosa helped Zuma and his thugs bring Eskom to where we are now. Those big power stations were just commissioned to facilitate theft on a grand scale. What a rotten bunch the ruling ANC is!

  • 42 000 Eskom NUMSA members are holding 42 million people hostage to their demands. The government must admit that this is a threat to national security and to the welfare , health and safety of its citizens. The action of NUMSA is tantamount to treason and should be seen as an act of terrorism. The same applies for those cadres in government.
    t and in Eskom who have run Eskom into the ground. The president needs to declare a state of emergency , instruct NUMSA workers to return to work or have them arrested , send in the military to secure the power stations and power distribution centres as strategic assets , replace striking workers with competent people , set up a governing body with full disciplinary powers to ensure productivity and compliance , secure and monitor the supply of coal , protect power lines and bring in experts to take over the running of Eskom. It won’t happen because the rot in the communist ANC and their State run enterprises is so deep that only by removing all current ANC politicians involved , all senior ANC linked staff , renewing all ANC associated contracts and replacing them with non politically aligned honest suppliers and bringing in outside specialists not associated with the ANC will solve the problem. The ANC obtained “power for the people” , but have now taken it away , literally. They have been disempowered and reduced to grovelling for ANC handouts. Well done to the ANC comrades and all who voted for them – this is what you voted for.

  • Why does the government not just speed up the allocation of more contracts to renewable energy companies? As I understand it, a lot of delays have been experienced with this – even De Ruyter complained that the lack of additional capacity as a result is putting Eskom under even more strain.

  • “The president is said to have also addressed the issue of inexperienced management. He suggested an attempt to find people with requisite skills to deal with the crisis, even if it means tracking down experts in other countries to come in and help. ”

    Probably from Cuba – Wait! The Cubans are here already and it has made no difference. So get more of them asap.

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