News and updates from the continent

DA questions ‘shroud of secrecy’ over Eskom issues

DA questions ‘shroud of secrecy’ over Eskom issues

Nov 24, 2014

Eskom’s Andrew Etzinger warned on Monday 24 November that South Africans can expect “constrained” electricity services during the coming week. “There is no scheduled load shedding at this stage, but the second half of the week is expected to be very tight,” he said.

After issuing a warning on Friday 21 November, the power giant said that the power system is extremely constrained, due to “unforeseen technical problems at power stations, depleted water reserves at our peaking power stations, which use water to generate electricity, and depleted diesel reserves to fire up the open-cycle gas turbines”.

The Democratic Alliance’s Natasha Michael, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, questioned the “shroud of secrecy” surrounding Eskom’s energy crisis.  This was posted to the DA’s website on Friday:

With Eskom again warning of the threat of imminent load shedding, due to “unforeseen technical problems”, the silence from the Minister of Public Enterprise, Ms Lynne Brown, is deafening. No one at Eskom or the department of Public Enterprises is willing to answer any questions.

For a number of weeks now, the DA has been pushing on every front to get information out of Minister Brown to determine:

– When Eskom plans to implement load shedding again, and what the plan is to avoid load shedding in general?
– What the true natures of the problems at Majuba are?
– Whether maintenance on the silos at Majuba was properly done? We have requested the maintenance reports on a number of occasions, with no responses forthcoming.
– What are the technical problems at other power stations that are placing more pressure on the grid?

Reports suggest today that there is another cracked coal silo at Majuba, and that load shedding could soon be implemented again. This raises further questions about what is really going on at Eskom. It does not bode well that Eskom and the Department is concealing this information. One has to wonder what it is that they are hiding.

The DA has taken numerous steps to ask for clarity from Minister Brown:

On 3 November I wrote to the Minister requesting for a full and detailed timeline for the maintenance of South Africa’s power stations in general and at Majuba in particular. I subsequently wrote to Minister Brown on three other occasions (5, 6 and 7 November) following my initial letter.  In each letter I demanded that more information be made available about what is happening at Majuba and our other power stations.

The Minister’s only response was a theatrical open letter on 6 November, wherein she promised to make the maintenance logs from Majuba available. 15 Days later, those are still outstanding. I also responded to this open letter, asking for clarity on a number of challenges facing her department. She ignored those requests for information.

I submitted Parliamentary Questions, asking about Eskom’s sponsorship of New Age business breakfasts, while it could not carry out necessary infrastructure development. No responses have been received.

I wrote to the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises, requesting that it perform an oversight visit to the Majuba power station. No response has been received.

The energy crisis at Eskom is being shrouded in secrecy. The Parliamentary Committee (chaired by the ANC), Eskom management and the Minister have resisted every attempt at openness and transparency. There is no information publicly available that sheds light on what is really happening at Eskom.

The fact of the matter is that Eskom is a public entity, that it is funded by the state and that it therefore must account to Parliament, especially if more load shedding is likely.

The DA is now forced to institute a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application to compel the Minister and her department to tell South Africa what is really going on at Majuba and at our other power stations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *