The following speech was delivered in Parliament today by Natasha Mazzone MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises.
South Africa is now in an official hostage situation. We have a situation where two belligerent parties, one being Eskom, the other being the ANC are holding the South African Republic, the South African economy and every person within South Africa as security in this hostage drama. We as South Africa have a metaphorical knife to our throat and we are being forced to pay a never-ending ransom to Eskom or else, the throat will be slit and the result will be a full blackout and the death of South Africa as we know it.
This is no over exaggeration and this is not panic peddling. This is an absolute reality. We are teetering on the very edge. We should be terrified at what exactly could happen if this crisis worsens. As government, every single effort and every single action should be focused on averting this crisis. And to anticipate the responses, NO, enough has not been done, and enough is not being done to save our country.
The date is 11 December 2014. The deputy President and leader of government business is Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, the plan is to turn around Eskom and Mr Ramaphosa will oversee it. Plans fail..dismally. The date is 11 July 2017. The deputy President and leader of government business is Mr Cyril Ramphosa, a new plan is discussed to turn around Eskom, increase revenue and reduce spending. Plans fail…diamally. The date is 31 January 2018. The Deputy President and leader of government business is Mr Cyril Ramaphosa. Fitch downgrades Eskom, Eskom vows to implement a turnaround strategy that sees the utility claw its way back from financial ruin due to State Capture of the SOE…Plans fail, dismally. The date is 2 December 2018. The President is Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, the leader of government business is Mr David Mabuza, rolling blackouts have rocked the country yet again, a new turnaround strategy is announced for implementation in early 2019…I think we can all agree, Epic Fail!
I have watched, year after year, Eskom board after Eskom board, rolling blackout after rolling blackout, Minister after Minister, Eskom price increase after price increase…it just gets worse. Eskom, as a state-owned entity simply cannot function. The ideological battles within the ANC are now not only ripping the party itself apart, it is causing an economic crisis the likes of which this country has never seen. The DA has not just sat back and complained, we have taken the proactive steps of providing solutions, providing legislation and requesting countless times to sit around the table and be of service. We have said, so many times, this crisis transcends the bounds of politics, the very future of our country is at stake here.
That kind of overhaul needed at Eskom should mean splitting Eskom into a generation entity completely independent from a distribution/transmission entity. The generation entity should be privatised over time, where well-functioning power stations can be offloaded to the private sector to create much-needed competition.
The DA’s cheaper electricity bill will do just that and create a cheaper and more stable energy sector. Our bill was gazetted in Parliament for public comment yesterday and is the first real concrete step to changing Eskom’s structure. Less talk, more action.
The Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, announced another set of bailouts for struggling state-owned entities (SOE’s) yesterday in his budget speech.
The R69 billion lifeline promised to Eskom over the next three years is not enough to keep Eskom afloat, with the utility sinking faster than the Titanic.
The truth is that Eskom has hit an iceberg in the form of mounting debt of R419 billion – and climbing, an oversized workforce, low productivity, lack of critical skills, brand-new faulty coal power stations, scar tissue from years of corruption, maintenance backlogs and strategic errors. When one adds the municipal debt that is owed to Eskom, the ship had only one way to go – and that is down.
The financial lifeline and rejig of Eskom into three entities will not be enough to save Eskom. Even with three units, there will still be only one board calling the shots. What Eskom needs is a complete overhaul, not a mere rejig.
We need to face some very harsh realities. State Capture hit it’s absolute height during the term of this Parliament. It was devised, executed and almost completed under the watch of then President Jacob Zuma and his entire cabinet. President Ramaphosa himself has referred to the nine wasted years. Nine wasted years indeed, but let me tell you what was also wasted, six opportunities to vote in a motion of no confidence to rid this country of Mr Jacob Zuma. Six times the ANC voted in favour of keeping him and cheered and sang and gave him a standing ovation every time the motions were defeated. The ANC members of this parliament have allowed us to now face the aftermath of State Capture. The politics of the stomach completely winning over the politics of the people. I have to laugh when I hear comments being made to the media like “we had no idea it was this bad” or “we should have acted sooner”. Yes, you should have acted immediately but that would have meant that all those pesky small anyana skeletons would have come tumbling out before they could be hidden. It simply cannot be that every single member of the executive, most especially the leader of government business was not aware of every element of state capture. What exactly happens in cabinet meetings? Just a little get together to decide who says what to deflect from the truth?
The ANC government has taken the people of South Africa for fools one to many times. South Africans are politically astute and will never fall for these games and lies again. It is not normal and nor should it ever be accepted as normal to have rolling blackouts threaten us each day. 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 county has it’s power back. The date is 10 May 2019 and the President is Mr Mmusi Maimane.