South Africa-Economy-Energy

S/Africa: Unions bay for minister's blood as power crisis bites

APA-Johannesburg (South Africa)

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa should “take urgent and decisive action” against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan “for his failure to address problems at Eskom”, the country’s power supplier.

Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) spokesperson Sizwe Pamla on Friday said Gordhan, whose office oversees state-owned firms like Eskom, was also failing to implement the power utility’s turnaround strategy designed to turn the energy giant into a profitable company.

According to Pamla, COSATU has lost confidence in Gordhan and was concerned that members of the Eskom board were “clueless on what their responsibilities are” during the current energy crisis that the country is facing.

Pamla said the current loadshedding showed that “Gordhan has not delivered on what we expected him to do in terms of fixing the SOEs (state owned enterprises) problems.”

“Many of them (SOEs) are still failing to function smoothly… And if you look at Eskom, the economy is still struggling because of load shedding (power rationing) by Eskom,” the official said.

He accused Gordham of failing to address challenges at South African Airways, which was recently placed under a business rescue plan.

“If we are to avert a continuation of this problem, we need to act and act now,” Pamla said.

On his part, Ramaphosa appealed to South Africans to be patient with Eskom as the daily load shedding continues, pledging that “the current problems facing the power supplier will be resolved soon.”

“We have now agreed that those private companies that want to generate their own energy should be given permission to do so. We need to add capacity to what we’ve got in Eskom,” Ramaphosa said.

NM/jn/APA

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