6 ways the #EskomCrisis debate was appropriated to campaign for May 8 votes | Fin24

6 ways the #EskomCrisis debate was appropriated to campaign for May 8 votes

Feb 23 2019 11:16
Lameez Omarjee

Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan on Thursday called out Members of Parliament for using a debate on the energy crisis to campaign for the national elections – but ultimately joined in.

The urgent debate on Eskom's energy crisis was requested by DA MP Natasha Mazzone last week, following the re-emergence of load shedding due to technical faults at power stations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in his State of the Nation Address earlier in the month that the power utility will be unbundled into three entities – generation, transmission and distribution – in an effort to turn around its fortunes. But opposition MPs slated the ANC-led government for creating Eskom's problems in the first place.

Here are 6 ways the debate saw Eskom becoming a platform for election campaigning.

1. DA MP Natasha Mazzone: Eskom is holding South Africans 'hostage'

Mazzone compared Eskom and the ANC government to captors holding the country hostage. She called for the privatisation of the power utility, and said the R69bn government has set aside for Eskom over the next three years would not be enough to keep it afloat.

"The time has come for South Africans to take back their power. The date is 9 May 2019, the President is no longer Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, the country has freed itself from the hostage taker and the country has its power back.

The date is 10 May 2019 and the President is Mr Mmusi Maimane," she said.

2. EFF MP Nazier Paulsen: Ramaphosa is trying to benefit his brother-in-law via unbundling

Paulsen stressed that the unbundling would not happen without privatising Eskom. He claimed that the process of privatisation had begun through independent power producer agreements, saying Energy Minister Jeff Radebe had signed 27 agreements last year, some of which his brother-in-law Patrice Motsepe had a stake in. Motsepe is also Ramaphosa's brother-in-law.

Motsepe has held a briefing where he said none of the IPPs he was involved in were directly procured from government and that the stakes he acquired were through the private sector.

Paulsen also suggested that the apparent collapse at Eskom was manufactured so that the private sector could emerge as "saviours", and that competent black people were being replaced by white people.

"Black professionals, not only engineers, must take this as a taste of what is to come if they continue to vote for the ANC," he said, before calling for the cancellation of all IPPs.

3. UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa: The ANC planned poorly

Kwankwa said SA was facing gaps between energy demand and supply due to a lack of planning by the ruling party. "If the ANC had planned this properly, it would not have taken it 25 years to wake up to reality of energy shortages," he said.

He went on to suggest that SA should move towards sustainable energy systems, reliant on renewables. He also called for a policy shift that would allow municipalities to have capacity to generate their own energy, using alternative sources.

4. VF MP Wouter Wessels: The ANC is behind the crisis

"ANC policy is behind the crisis," Wessels claimed. He told the National Assembly the ANC was to blame for Eskom's skyrocketing debt as well as its leadership instability – Eskom has had 12 CEOs and six chairpersons in a decade.

Referring to Gordhan's statements on the lack of skills and expertise at the power utility, Wessels pinned this on affirmative action, saying: "We are not appointing the best people for jobs."

"Voters have a choice – fight back against the archaic system (of affirmative action)," he added.

5. COPE MP William Mothipa Madisha: 'Greedy, corrupt' ANC is to blame

In a brief history lesson, Madisha said the electricity system was protected by the "illegitimate apartheid regime". Eskom was meant to provide reliable and cheap electricity, but electricity supply is not reliable, adequate or cheap, he argued.

"The ANC cries sabotage, but history will reveal the current party destroyed Eskom on the altar of insatiable greed and corruption," he said.

"Many say Eskom represents our single biggest ongoing risk as a nation. As COPE we say the biggest risk is not Eskom, but the current governing party - the ANC which conspired and oversaw the defiling, plunder and collapse of Eskom," he said.

6. Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan: The ANC is going to solve the problems

When Gordhan took to the podium, he reminded MPs that the purpose of the debate was to provide "concrete solutions" to "concrete problems". Instead, what was heard was a repetition of things government has already said, and the "magic wand of privatisation" was made to seem as the solution of all Eskom's problems.

Gordhan listed the progress government had made in dealing with issues at Eskom, such as its restructure, and said government had met with various stakeholders, including labour, to set out solutions for the power utility.

He said it was easy for other parties to blame the ANC for what had happened at Eskom. "The ANC might have had problems in past, but the ANC is going to solve those problems, so vote ANC on 8 May," he said.



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