President Cyril Ramaphosa answered a number of questions in the National Council of Provinces on Thursday (10 October).
The questions covered a wide range of issues, including the government’s plans for border control, gender-based violence, and the economy.
However, much of the discussion focused on Eskom and the future of the embattled power utility.
When asked whether the government will sell any Eskom power stations – as outlined in finance minister Tito Mboweni’s proposed economic policy – Ramaphosa said there were issues with this plan.
He noted that a number of the country’s power stations are set to be decommissioned due to age, while the country is reliant on the newer stations for power generation.
Ramaphosa said that there are also a number of periphery issues to consider, including entire communities which were attached to and relied on power stations for job creation.
“Unless somebody will come forward and say ‘I will buy this power station, will operate it for the next 20-40 years, and breathe life into it’, then you are looking at a different proposition.
“But inherently we are saying we are not in the business in selling power stations because which power stations would we sell?”
Too big to fail
Speaking on Eskom’s structural issues, Ramaphosa said that the power utility is facing deep-rooted problems of corruption and state capture.
“My own sense is that if there ever was an entity of government that was totally and completely captured, it was Eskom,” he said.
“It was easy to capture because they were able to see how big it is – the biggest corporation in our country – generating revenue that is far above many other companies in our country.
“Once they set their eye on Eskom they went in with great effectiveness.”
Ramaphosa said that much of the damage caused by corruption has only come to light recently as the country has held a number of commissions of inquiry.
He added that Eskom is ‘too big to fail’.