Special advisor to the Electricity Minister Silas Zimu said he told the minister there is only one group of people that can solve the country’s electricity crisis – the people at Eskom.
Zimu said Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa asked him to take the role of special advisor, and he accepted under one condition – “There’s only a group of people that can solve this problem, and those people are sitting at Eskom. It can’t be done outside Eskom.”
He explained that this is why the minister prioritised visiting power stations in-person across the country when his term started.
“From day one, we hit the road. We visited power stations, spoke to the staff, and were joined by senior executives at Eskom,” he said.
Through this “power station roadshow”, Zimu said they were able to make key observations.
Notably, they observed that there was less involvement from Eskom’s original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
He said this raised concerns, as there is “no way to resolve [the electricity crisis] with the exclusion of OEMs”.
“We can’t ignore that the performance of our plants has worsened over the years. While we acknowledge that poor performance cannot be fixed overnight, we also cannot allow a situation where the OEMs are put on the sidelines.”
Zimu said they also noted that at power stations that were performing well, the staff was doing most, if not all, of the work, including performing maintenance.
The inverse was observed at worst-performing stations, where much of the work was outsourced.
“The question was, ‘Have we outsourced to the right people? We realised we had a challenge – our supply chain is not linked to the generation’s balanced scorecard.”
Factors like empowerment policies pushed Eskom to procure goods and services from some companies that were not necessarily best suited for its operations, he said.