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Eskom CEO dismisses claims that the power utility is being collapsed so it can be privatized

Eskom’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) André de Ruyter has dismissed as “wild conspiracies” with “no credibility” claims that the power utility is being purposefully collapsed so that it can be privatized.

De Ruyter, along with the Eskom management team, including Chief Operating Officer (COO) Jan Oberholzer, was on Tuesday briefing the media following the entity’s announcement on Monday that stage 2 load shedding would be escalated to stage 4 “due to the ongoing generation capacity shortages”.

During Tuesday’s media briefing, it was announced that load shedding would be scaled down to stage 3 on Wednesday.

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De Ruyter said the “wild conspiracies” were being “punted by so called energy experts”, among others, and that it is no secret, rather, that Eskom’s management team is working hard to restore the power utility’s system.

De Ruyter further said the question of whether Eskom would be privatized is a decision to be made by its shareholder – the government – and that it is not the concern of the entity’s executives.

The spreading of these “wild conspiracies”, de Ruyter said, is not constructive.

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Oberholzer said it is “absolutely not” true that Eskom’s power system is close to collapsing resulting in a total blackout.

Oberholzer said the team at the entity is working tirelessly to protect the power system and would continue to protect it even if it means escalating load shedding to stage 6.

Oberholzer pleaded with energy experts to be responsible and desist from making statements that Eskom is headed for a total blackout, adding that though the power utility is currently faced with a challenging situation, work is being done to address the challenges.

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De Ruyter said there are three factors he had not taken into careful consideration when he took office at Eskom and gave the assurance that the power system would be stabilized within 18 months.

These factors are:

  • The Covid-19 pandemic and how it disrupted the implementation of the reliability and maintenance programme;
  • Liquidity issues which prevented Eskom’s finance department from releasing required funds, and
  • A procurement system that does not allow for the reliability and maintenance programme to be implemented optimally

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De Ruyter said to suggest that he was intentionally sabotaging the country’s economy via the implementation of load shedding, specifically when it is announced at short notice, is “quite preposterous”.

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