ANC government crushed Eskom

The ANC government has brought Eskom to its knees by failing to implement its own policy on the restructuring of the utility and, instead, making knee-jerk decisions that have collapsed it. 

This is feedback from energy analyst Chris Yelland, who told Newzroom Afrika that the restructuring of Eskom has been official policy since 1998 and is still yet to be implemented. 

Yelland referred to the Department of Minerals and Energy White Paper on the Energy Policy of the Republic of South Africa, published in 1998.

It provided a background to South Africa’s energy sector, key policy challenges, and the government’s proposed policies.

It also provided details about the implementation, monitoring, and evaluation to meet the country’s electricity needs.

The White Paper famously warned that unless the government acted, Eskom’s generation capacity surplus would be fully utilised by about 2007.

The government did not act, and by 2007, the electricity demand exceeded supply, forcing Eskom to implement load-shedding to prevent a national blackout.

However, the White Paper also outlined the unbundling of Eskom into three separate divisions – generation, transmission, and distribution. 

It further suggested that the private sector plays a significant role in South Africa’s electricity supply industry.

“It is 25 years later, and we are still talking about the same things, including Eskom’s unbundling, an electricity market, and the private sector’s involvement in generation,” he said.

“The government has failed to implement its own policies over the last 25 years. It failed to do what the white paper said.”

Instead, the government made several knee-jerk decisions which have failed to address the country’s growing electricity crisis. 

“We have seen this before when policy positions were suddenly changed in the past with the decision to build Medupi and Kusile. These were knee-jerk reactions and the wrong decisions that have resulted in actually bringing Eskom to its very knees,” Yelland said. 

“Eskom is where it is today because of wrong decisions about megaprojects that went wrong and were not executed properly.”

Yelland stressed that it is of vital importance for the Electricity Regulation Amendment Act to be passed by Parliament. 

This promises to set up a competitive market for electricity, increase private power supply, and allow for the unbundling of Eskom. 

He warned that the national election later this year threatens to derail the passage of the Act or delay its passage and prolong the crisis South Africans are facing. 

“Ideologically, this is strongly contested even within the ruling party, but I think the government is fairly committed to the restructuring and unbundling of Eskom,” Yelland said. 

“If we do not do it and we do an about-turn, then we are going to have very, very hard times ahead,” he said. 


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