Bad grammar caused blackout panic: Eskom

Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona’s comments about a possible total collapse of the power grid were “misinterpreted” due to his poor grammar, according to the Sunday Times.

At a meeting held on 13 January, Matona addressed business on the growing power crisis in the country.

Matona told stakeholders that one unexpected event at any of its power stations could push the country to the total failure of the national electricity system that may take weeks to resolve.

However, Eskom spokesman, Andrew Etzinger, told the Sunday Times that this is not what the CEO meant, saying that Matona’s comments were “misinterpreted” due to his incorrect use of grammar.

Despite this backtracking, Eskom engineers say that a total loss of control of the grid is a possibility – albeit an unlikely one – and there are measures in place for such an eventuality.

Another crisis at Eskom to apparently suffer at the hands of “misinterpretation” is the company’s finances – specifically, claims that the company is days away from going broke.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown was quoted by the Mail & Guardian saying that “Eskom will run out of money by the end of January.”

This was later clarified as referring to the company’s budget to buy diesel every month.

Eskom is currently spending over R1 billion a month on diesel-powered generators to add power to the grid.

According to Eskom’s financial director, the group never said it was facing bankruptcy, only that it could not afford to keep spending money on diesel.

“We have enough money to pay our daily bills. We aren’t bankrupt,” the group said.

According to Bloomberg, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said at Davos that government has identified assets which could be sold to aid Eskom, adding that the power utility will have an additional R10 billion by June.

According to Barlcays, the quickest assets to sell would be a 14% stake in Vodacom, and a 40% stake in Telkom, which would be worth a combined R41.5 billion.

Meanwhile, Eskom is also looking to raise tariffs to cover its troubles.

“We don’t have the right tariff – in that it does not allow us to recover all our cost,” CEO Matona said.

“Our business model does not allow that to happen. There is an acceptance that going forward, we need to address that issue.”

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Bad grammar caused blackout panic: Eskom