South Africa-Business-Energy

S/Africa: Eskom gets cold shoulder from Ramaphosa on debt swap proposal

APA-Pretoria (South Africa)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has not signalled any support to a proposal from the struggling state-owned power utility Eskom for the government to assume a large portion of its massive debt.

There are a number of options being considered to solve Eskom's large debt burden, the president said in an interview Thursday with a local radio station, but a debt swap was not one of them.

Eskom, a victim of state capture by the Gupta Brothers whose firm used to supply coal to the utility’s power stations, has told bond investors it wanted the government to take on US$7.14 billion of its debt.

"The debt swap that Eskom has come up with is just going to descend us into further deeper debt as a country," Ramaphosa said. "So we have said we need to look at a number of other options."


Ramaphosa will announce a task team to consider solutions for Eskom on Friday, he said.

The team will look at Eskom's current challenges after the company was forced to implement rolling blackouts, as well as its business and funding models, he added.

Ramaphosa also said he would announce a special presidential council on state-owned enterprises Friday.

During the interview he said corruption in some state companies had reached a "horrifying" level and the issue will be addressed, and those responsible would be jailed once due process has run its course. 


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