Unpopular decisions must be made to fix ailing SOEs – Mabuza

Deputy President David Mabuza. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng / African News Agency (ANA)

The deputy president admitted at the SA Communist Party’s special national congress that the country’s SOEs were ‘in a state of collapse’.

Unpopular decisions will have to be made to fix ailing state-owned enterprises (SOEs), said Deputy President David Mabuza, who also apologised for load shedding during his address at the SACP’s special national congress.

Mabuza admitted SOEs were “in a state of collapse”, saying Eskom should get its house in order and take definitive measures and make plans to mitigate the growing crisis.

“With regards to Eskom, we are mindful of the challenges that are faced by Eskom. We should take this opportunity and apologise to the public for the inconvenience. We cannot allow Eskom to fail. We will do everything in our power to get Eskom right. We can try and provide every reason behind these disruptions at times risking repeating ourselves.

“Bottom line, we have power stations that are old, almost close to their lifespan. What makes it worse, if you don’t have a plan how to maintain your old car you will be in trouble. Eskom leadership must be aware they have an ageing fleet and they must have a plan,” he said.

Eskom implemented stage 6 load shedding for the first time on Monday evening, raising the nation’s ire.

The struggling power utility ordered stage 6 rotational power cuts as it continued to battle capacity constraints caused by flooding and unplanned outages, including the failure of a power supply line feeding electricity conveyor belts feeding coal to silos at Medupi power station, Fin24 reported.

Stage 6 load shedding – which allows for up to 6,000MW to be shed from the national grid – ended at 22.00pm on Monday when Eskom reverted to stage 4 cuts. These cuts are expected to continue until 23.00pm on Tuesday.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has cut short his state visit to Egypt to attend to the crisis.

Mabuza said the situation confronting the country required the party to deal with it.

Defending the appointment of Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, he said it was not just he and Ramaphosa who had made the decision, but the party’s deployment committee.

He told delegates he had received criticism from the party and its alliance partners over De Ruyter’s deployment.

“The recent deployment of the Eskom CEO is a case in point. This is a decision that we took in the deployment committee, all of us. People are now quiet. The only person that is being blamed is the president. The decision to deploy De Ruyter as the CEO is a decision that we took collectively.

“We stand ready to confront the weaknesses that are faced by all SOEs. The decision to put SAA under business rescue is a decision that we took, it’s not a decision of the president [alone]. It is in the best interest of the workers at SAA and in the best interest of the entity not to close down.

“This is a problem that, as the government, we are prepared to face so that we restore energy security in the country,” Mabuza said.

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