Load shedding will continue for the next 18 months, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said on Thursday, once again appealing to South Africans to save electricity.
Speaking after Eskom’s Annual General Meeting in Cape Town, Brown said the decisive interventions over the past year at Eskom that culminated in a new Board being appointed, has had the desired effect at the state-owned company.
She however expressed concern with Eskom’s financial sustainability and the reliability of its ageing power plants.
“Although the accelerated maintenance has increased plant capacity from 65% to 75%, I am urging Eskom to continue on this trend and increase this threshold to reach at least 80%,” said Brown.
On April 15, Brown said South Africa would still have to bear load shedding for the next two years, and expressed the hope that the economy will manage around that.
She said in a statement she was confident that Eskom was turning the corner and had instructed the Board to fill all senior management positions to ensure this consolidation continued.
“It’s unacceptable that senior and middle-management positions are staying vacant for too long,” she said.
Three of the Eskom senior executives who were suspended on March 11 2015 have since left Eskom.
On March 12, Eskom’s former chairperson Zola Tsotsi placed the four, including former CEO Tshediso Matona, on suspension when he announced an inquiry into the utility and technology and commercial head Matshela Koko.
Matona initially challenged the suspension in the Labour Court, but decided to resign on May 18.
The other executives who parted ways with Eskom were group executive for group capital Dan Marokane, who resigned on June 1, and finance director Tsholofelo Molefe who left the utility on June 25.
Eskom had since announced that all four executives had been cleared of any wrongdoing following an independent inquiry.
She said Eskom’s net profit decreased from R7.1bn to R3.6bn and management must take decisive steps to stop this decline.
Similar to other state-owned companies, Eskom must finalise steps to wean the organisation from the support of the fiscus. Eskom must be put on a course where it can live off its balance sheet, she said.