Wednesday, 11 January
President Cyril Ramaphosa said he will “applaud” the person who agrees to take over as the chief executive officer of the beleaguered state power utility Eskom.
Eskom’s current CEO Andre de Ruyter last month said he will step down at the end of March.
The utility has been criticised for subjecting the nation to the worst rolling power cuts — known as load shedding — since 2008. De Ruyter, who took over the role in early 2020, said he survived an attempt on his life in December.
“It’s a difficult job,” Ramaphosa said during a media briefing. “I applaud anyone who takes that job.”
READ | Ramaphosa: De Ruyter quit because it’s a ‘tough job’
South Africa saw 205 days of load shedding last year, which discouraged companies from expanding and adding jobs. The company’s coal-fired plants regularly break down and it doesn’t have money to buy diesel that’s needed to supplement its generation capacity.
“We are dealing with it as urgently as we possibly can,” Ramaphosa said. “We should be pleased that the grid had not collapsed, that would be the worst Armageddon.”
Then there’s Eskom’s R396.3 billion of debt obligations. Eskom’s interest bill and loan repayments will jump to R81 billion in the 12 months to end March before the government takes over part of the company’s debt.
Last month, Deloitte & Touche, Eskom’s auditor, expressed concern that the company may not be able to continue operating. The auditor found evidence of failure by the utility to take action to correct breaches of the National Environment Management Act or comply with the Public Finance Management Act, Eskom said in a stock-exchange filing.
Other irregularities were also identified, including the purposeful destruction of tender documents in a fire, the possible recreation or falsification of records and a failure to investigate and report financial misconduct and irregularities.
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