De Ruyter must bring back South African skills — Former Eskom finance chief

Eskom should bring old skills back from overseas to help train the technicians looking after power plants now, according to former Eskom financial chief Mick Davis.

Davis was reportedly blocked from becoming Eskom CEO by the ANC in 1994. He is now a British politician, was awarded the rank of Knight Bachelor, and works in government.

He said that factors including ongoing mismanagement, a lack of skills, and significant corruption have led to massive blowouts associated with the costs of building capacity, resulting in the load-shedding South Africans experience.

“Running a power system is an art, not a science. It needs a huge amount of skill base. It needs people with experience,” Davis said.

“I strongly believe that one of the ways of getting that experience is to go around the world and tap into the best operators you can find … and bring them in for a three year period.”

Davis said the personnel from these successful operators could work alongside Eskom’s employees and train them as they re-effect the running of the system.

“There is no reason why Eskom cannot return to a situation where it can be a credible, reliable supplier of reasonably priced electricity,” he said.

“This can be done within a ten year period.”

He also indicated his admiration of André de Ruyter, the current chief executive at Eskom.

“I am full of admiration for the current chief executive of Eskom, the battle he is fighting, and the initiatives he is taking,” Davis said.

André de Ruyter, Eskom CEO

“He [André de Ruyter] will never be successful. He cannot be successful unless there is a purposeful response by the government to do the right thing.”

According to Davis, the right thing is to address the issue of Eskom’s crippling debt and remove the burden in some appropriate way from the balance sheet.

This will alleviate pressure on Eskom associated with the utility’s requirement to pay interest on finance charges, which inhibits its ability to address operational considerations.

The government needs to create an environment where municipalities that do not pay for electricity are either forced to pay or have the government step in to resolve the payment issues.

“Eskom cannot support non-payment. It doesn’t have the capacity to do that,” Davis said.

While corruption within local governments could be to blame for the non-payment issues associated with electricity supplied to municipalities, corruption within Eskom is also rife.

The Sunday Times recently reported on collusion between contractors, suppliers, and Eskom employees to sabotage infrastructure.

“Eskom employees removed cameras, distribution boards, and a control timer to switch electrical equipment on and off, as well as committing other acts of vandalism,” the paper reported.


Now read: Eskom employee arrested — copper cable worth R540,000 confiscated

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De Ruyter must bring back South African skills — Former Eskom finance chief