Cabinet hails Budget, interventions at Eskom

2019-02-28 16:32 - Lameez Omarjee
(Gianluigi Guercia, AFP) ~ AFP

Cabinet has received a report on Eskom from the special committee led by Deputy President David Mabuza seeking to address electricity security.

Cabinet met on Wednesday at Tuynhuys, where ministers discussed the crisis at Eskom and the National Budget, among other things.

According to a statement issued on the meeting on Thursday, Cabinet has welcomed the Budget, which included initiatives to strengthen government finances by cutting the public sector wage bill, as well as financial support for Eskom.

Treasury has allocated R69bn for Eskom over the next three years.

Additional interventions for the power utility include Cabinet's special committee on Eskom, which includes Mabuza, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and five other ministers. The team monitors energy supply on a daily basis and is tasked with bringing stability to the national grid.

Cabinet was informed that Gordhan and the Eskom board had engaged with the leadership of the three labour unions recognised by Eskom – namely the National Union of Mineworkers, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and trade union Solidarity. The parties discussed the restructuring of Eskom into three entities: generation, transmission and distribution.

Government has also engaged with the coal mining industry (Minerals Council of South Africa), the Engineering Council of South Africa and the National Association of Black Engineers, the statement read.

The engineering council brought forward an analysis of problems at Eskom and has provided a set of recommendations to government to stabilise electricity supply.

The bodies will assist government in establishing a Technical Operations and Maintenance Review Team for Eskom, which will be announced shortly, Cabinet said.

Renewable energy

Cabinet also supports the inclusion of renewable energy in SA's energy mix, as part of the country's commitments to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. Earlier this week, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe held a briefing to put forward the country's rationale for using renewable energy.

"While South Africa continues to make a significant contribution to the global effort for a low-carbon and climate resilient developments, government remains committed to ensuring a responsible and just transition to a cleaner future," Cabinet's statement read.

Cabinet also commented on the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Programme, saying the Saldanha Bay Industrial Development had successfully attracted investments.

"Since their establishment, SEZs have contributed to attracting foreign direct investment," Cabinet said.

The special economic zone in Saldanha Bay recently signed a R3bn investment. Another R2.4bn in investments is expected for the short to medium outlook of the zone.