7 February 2019

South Africa: Saving Eskom - No Immediate Privatisation, Unions Still Not Happy

Photo: Govt of South Africa
President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the annual State of the National Address, his second since the recall of former President Jacob Zuma in February last year.

And then there were three. South Africa's failing electricity parastatal, Eskom, is to be split into three separate entities in a restructuring exercise announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address.

Eskom Holdings will remain under control of the state, with Generation, Transmission and Distribution becoming separate units underneath. It's a solution unlikely to find many passionate fans, with one side arguing it's a dangerous move towards privatisation, and the other contending that this creates triple the headaches while maintaining all the problems.

President Ramaphosa's announcement on Eskom's restructuring was presented as "bold decisions and decisive action" on a state-owned entity which could present "devastating" problems down the road.

It follows Ramaphosa's appointing of an Eskom sustainability task team in December 2018 which was required to submit its findings by the end of January. The eight-member team included University of Cape Town Professor Anton Eberhard, former Eskom CEO Brian Dames, and former National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) general secretary Frans Baleni.

Though the announcement of the split of the parastatal had been reported as a likely outcome, there was some confusion as to whether unions had been briefed ahead of SONA.

The ANC's Paul Mashatile told...

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