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Corruption, ‘cutting of corners’ are key issues at Medupi, says electricity minister 

Corruption, ‘cutting of corners’ are key issues at Medupi, says electricity minister 
Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. (Photo: GCIS)

Minister of Electricity Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa says the poor performance of units at Medupi Power Station can be attributed largely to corruption at the plant. He was briefing the media on Thursday 6 April after touring Eskom’s power stations over the past weeks.

Ramokgopa began his tour of all of Eskom’s power stations on 20 March 2023. His national roadshow took place in the weeks after former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter’s explosive interview on e.TV in which he said that corruption at Eskom was politically connected. 

In the interview, De Ruyter was asked whether Eskom was an ANC “feeding trough”. He responded: “I would say the evidence suggests that it is.”

During his visit to Kusile Power Station last month, Ramokgopa claimed that the parastatal’s problems emanated from “technical problems”, not corruption. He said the solution to the problems would be found in the workers. 

“The challenges that we’ve had here, these are technical problems, they have nothing to do with so-called corruption,” he told journalists during his visit. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Dear Minister Ramokgopa, here is a list of corruption cases impacting on Eskom

He later appeared to contradict his claims that the problems were not related to corruption when visiting Tutuka and Medupi power stations, suggesting “corruption and greed” were responsible for the design flaws at Medupi and a “network” existed at Tutuka which undermined its procurement abilities.

Providing an update on the observations made during his power station visits on Thursday morning, Ramokgopa said that one of the issues he found at Medupi Power Station was the “premature failure of units”, which is largely attributed to corruption at the power station.  

“The oldest of the units there is eight years old, and the youngest of the units there is about two years old — and yet, we are experiencing failures,” he said. 

“When we were speaking to management, a significant proportion of this can be attributed to the issues that are well-documented in the Zondo Commission around corruption and the cutting of corners,” he continued. 

“We are paying the penalty… for those misdemeanours.”

Supply and demand

On Thursday morning, Ramokgopa said there are three potential options to close the gap between Eskom’s ability to supply power and the demand for electricity: 1) ramp up generation capacity; 2) bring down electricity demand; and 3) preferably, do both options 1) and 2), but without undermining households’ ability to meet daily needs and without undermining businesses ability to operate.

“I will be presenting a more detailed, comprehensive report to the Cabinet… In that presentation to the Cabinet, I’ll be mapping out what the choices are that stand before us, in order to resolve the load shedding question,’ he said. 

The minister said Cabinet will ultimately decide on the preferred option. 

He warned that winter will be a “very difficult period” for South Africans. 

Meanwhile, data contained in Eskom’s latest system status report, already indicates that more than 2,000MW of capacity will be short for the next 52 weeks. 

Energy State of Disaster flip-flop

Ramokgopa’s feedback to the nation comes on the back of the government’s reversal of two key decisions related to the energy crisis. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Government’s PR optics control unravels as two key decisions reversed in a day

On Wednesday 5 April, the government announced the end of the electricity State of Disaster, which had been Ramaphosa’s big announcement, alongside a new electricity minister, in his State of the Nation Address in February. The termination of the energy State of Disaster coincided with National Treasury’s decision to withdraw — for now — Eskom’s exemption from parts of the Public Finance Management Act. 

Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Thembi Nkadimeng said the government’s decision to terminate the State of Disaster was motivated by the “number of measures” introduced during the period in which it was in effect that have assisted in getting the government’s “systems and processes in place” to ensure that it is ready to deal with the crisis.

But, as Daily Maverick’s Stephen Grootes wrote, there is no evidence that anything has been done to improve Eskom’s electricity supply. The day before the State of Disaster was declared, South Africa was experiencing both stages 3 and 4 rolling blackouts. The country is currently on Stage 4.

On Thursday, Ramokgopa said Eskom’s energy availability factor (EAF) currently stood at 53%. In the week that the National State of Disaster was declared, the utility’s EAF stood at 55%. 

He maintained that there was a need for declaring the State of Disaster at the time. 

“I’m not suggesting that there was no need for a declaration of a State of Disaster,” he said. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Luan Sml says:

    “… there are three potential options to close the gap between Eskom’s ability to supply power and the demand for electricity: 1) ramp up generation capacity; 2) bring down electricity demand; and 3) preferably, do both options 1) and 2)…” Really, we needed a state of disaster and a minister of electricity to deliver this profound solution? 😂

  • Jane Crankshaw says:

    This is exactly what De Ruyter was trying to tell you…before he was poisoned and accused of being a traitor!!! Idiots!

  • Lothar Böttcher says:

    Why must us tax payers fork out for a “Ministry of Electricity” if the CEO of Eskom already knows where the issues are (but blatantly doesn’t get any support from government)??
    “The minister said Cabinet will ultimately decide on the preferred option.” – Cabinet had more than 15 years to decide on an option. Government just won’t let go of their energy monopoly to the detriment of SA. We had an opportunity to become the global benchmark for an energy revolution but greed and myopic dinosaurs squandered this future.
    The “Ministry of Electricity” is a spin ministry, where known facts are regurgitated as damage control for the ANC.

  • Grenville Wilson says:

    Will the Minister please. Make up his mind.

  • Rob Rhodes-Houghton says:

    Tap dancer of note.

  • Robert Morgan says:

    Ohm’s dear, it would appear that our current Minister of Electrickery isn’t the bright spark we were expecting after all. This dull bulb and his handlers need extinguishing immediately. Vive la résistance!

  • Epsilon Indi says:

    Isn’t it amazing how this mampara of a minister can swing so precipitously between one pole and the next. First there is no such thing as corruption but now corruption is to blame. It is evidence of the minister’s corruption that he can change his ( very small ) mind so quickly.

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