eskomCity Press reports that President Cyril Ramaphosa faces blowback over his government’s plans to fix state-owned power utility Eskom.  

He has established a Cabinet committee – led by Deputy President David Mabuza and including Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan – to deal with the power crisis.  But, already slammed by unions for the proposed split in the company into separate generation, transmission and distribution units and potentially including independent power producers (IPPs) in its remit, the committee has come under fire for lacking technical expertise.  Ramaphosa also faces accusations by some in the ANC of bowing to the dictates of the World Bank, which wants the involvement of IPPs to be accelerated and the power utility ultimately privatised.  ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has warned that any proposal to privatise Eskom was misplaced because the ANC had no such policy.  Trade unions are vehemently opposed to Ramaphosa’s proposal, announced in his recent state of the nation address, to unbundle Eskom into three separate entities.  They claim it is a step towards privatisation, retrenchments and higher power prices.  Labour federation Cosatu vowed to take drastic action, including not voting for the ANC in the general election in May.  Metalworkers’ union Numsa has also expressed its strong opposition to any moves to privatise Eskom.  Meanwhile, current and former Eskom executives have blamed last week’s load shedding on an exodus of skilled executives.  They say that in the past two months skilled engineers with more than 200 years’ combined experience have left the company.


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