WATCH: Privatise Eskom right now, says Maimane

While Ramaphosa tiptoes around the idea of privatisation in fear of unions, the DA leader wants it right away.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said in a video on the party’s official Twitter account that “bold and decisive action” was needed to confront the crisis at Eskom.

For Maimane and his party, this means privatisation, and he said we must “act now and act decisively” to achieve it.

“We are of the complete view that we need to take an aggressive plan around independent power producers (IPPs),” Maimane said.

“Already a province like the Western Cape… has introduced other technologies around IPPs,” he continued.

READ MORE: Eskom split not about ‘privatising’, says Ramaphosa, as unions plan to take to the streets

“We need to be able to privatise Eskom, especially the distribution component so as to allow better competition to come on board,” he added.

“It will be better for consumers to consume cheaper energy than to be hamstrung by the monopoly that Eskom is,” he said.

Some believe that Ramaphosa and Maimane are in agreement over privatisation.

Eskom has already signed contracts that see them outsourcing energy production to IPPs, and unions are in the process of mobilising around the proposed unbundling of Eskom, which Ramaphosa announced would take place at the state of the nation address on Thursday last week. Union federation Cosatu marched yesterday, threatening to bring South Africa to a standstill.

Largely due to the fierce opposition to IPPs and the unbundling of Eskom from unions, Ramaphosa and others, such as Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, have taken pains to assure the unions that unbundling is not an attempt to pave the way towards privatisation.

As a column in The Citizen on Wednesday said, however, not everyone believes it.

READ MORE: Unions are ‘holding Eskom – and SA – to ransom’

Unions, as well as the EFF and the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber have strongly opposed the use of IPPs, which they said had been contracted at absorbent prices. They also said their adoption would lead to job losses, the same reason the unbundling was opposed.

The EFF have even called it a “manufactured crisis” and alleged there was no shortage of coal, despite what Eskom claimed.

Others have argued that Eskom is hugely overstaffed and that the proposed unbundling – and unfortunately some job losses – is the only hope South Africa has of sorting out the energy crisis.

An owner of an IPP told The Citizen the unions are holding Eskom – and South Africa – to ransom.

Privatisation was just one of the solutions Maimane had to Eskom – and the country’s – energy woes, which have seen an escalation to Stage 4 load shedding for the first time since 2008.

Maimane’s other solutions include getting “big industries that are high consumers of energy [to] reduce demand in order [to] stabilise the grid”.

He also says “plans around Kusile and Medupi need to be halted because we simply don’t have the capital to be able to invest further into those projects”.

READ MORE: Medupi is drowning in damaging ash as contractor forced to withdraw

Problems at the two new power plants are believed to be at the heart of our current energy crisis, and economists have also called operations to be halted.

“Furthermore, it requires that municipalities that are not paying for services, that they must be put on the table and we need to recoup that cost, we need to stabilise Eskom financially,” was another of Maimane’s solutions.

Some municipalities, such as parts of Soweto, have had a problem with residents refusing to pay or opting for illegal electricity connections rather than getting their power from Eskom.

Maimane also wants to “do a skills audit” that will reduce the salaries of “middle management and other managers who are not adding value to the entity”. This, he says, will help keep “Eskom’s cash flow on the table”.

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