Eskom load-shedding is killing people

Rotational power cuts are killing South Africans, and government should be treating it with the same seriousness as it did the Covid-19 pandemic.

That is the view of energy sector analyst Roger Lilley.

“People are dying differently. They are dying because they are losing their jobs. They are dying emotionally, as it were,” Lilley said in an interview with eNCA.

“They’ve lost trust in this government. They’ve lost trust in the country and yet the minister responsible for Eskom… is silent on the matter.”

Lilly said public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan should be addressing South Africans on television as regularly as President Cyril Ramaphosa did during the height of Covid-19.

“We really are going backwards economically, and yet we don’t hear [from] the ministers responsible for this, in particular, the minister for public enterprises, Mr [Pravin] Gordhan.”

“The concern that I have is that over the last 15 years that we’ve had load-shedding… we have lost so many jobs, we have lost so many opportunities for business growth, we have lost so many people and businesses to other countries,” Lilley said.

Pravin Gordhan
Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Public Enterprises

Lilley said another big problem was the finger-pointing between different government entities meant to help solve the problem.

“The existing management team are blaming previous management teams. Previous Eskom management teams are blaming the current one. Eskom is blaming the government; the government is blaming Eskom,” Lilley said.

“When he [Gordhan] does speak, all he can do is point fingers and blame the utility,” Lilley said.

He said the reality is that the government was ultimately responsible for providing South Africans with affordable, reliable electricity supply. Eskom was merely the tool it had to use to achieve this.

“What’s the point of blaming the utility when the utility is your responsibility? Then it is your problem!”

Bailouts not working

Lilley pointed out that Eskom’s primary problem was money.

“They have this enormous debt load which is crippling the organisation,” Lilley said.

“Something like two-thirds of the revenue received every year from the sale of electricity goes to [paying the debt off], and they can’t survive on what’s left,” he added.

Lilley said that the government bailouts Eskom received were insufficient to fix the problem in the long term.

The only real solution was that the private sector comes onstream with new generation “big-time”.

“Mr De Ruyter has said numerous times that he cannot do this alone. He needs both the industry and government support to make electricity available to the nation.”

Lilley said unless Gordhan started to take the issue more seriously, the president should replace him with someone younger, better educated, and more in touch with the reality of what South Africa needed right now and into the future.

He also dug into energy minister Gwede Mantashe for his continued insistence on using coal and nuclear, which he held were not suitable for South Africa in current circumstances.

“These men should be replaced. They should be replaced quickly otherwise we are going nowhere fast,” Lilley stated.

Now read: Eskom’s criminal millionaires — three employees arrested and 20 suspended at Tutuka

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Eskom load-shedding is killing people