Alleged attempts to privatize the national electricity utility Eskom has met with mixed reactions as the shortage of power supply worsened in South Africa. Eskom
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Thursday that it is “extremely disappointed by the news or the rumors that there are intentions to sell parts of Eskom”.
Eskom, which provides more than 95 percent of the electricity consumed in South Africa, has been grappling with a financial crisis that is blamed for constant rolling blackouts for the past few months.
Reports emerged on Wednesday that South Africa is considering selling some of the state-owned power utility Eskom’s stations or an initial public offering of a portion of the cash-strapped utility’s shares.
The proposal reportedly was designed to revive previous plans to raise funds for the struggling power producer, which is battling the worst power supply shortages since 2008.
National Treasury Director General Lungisa Fuzile confirmed the news, saying the question as to whether portions of state-owned enterprises can be spun off to raise money “is on the table”.
Responding to the news, Frans Baleni, NUM General Secretary, said his trade union will resist the attempt.
“We want to remind those who are behind the rumors or even government if there is any intention or whatsoever to sell Eskom or part of Eskom that it will be resisted,” Baleni said.
“Eskom is not for sale. There shall be no privatization. This is a state asset. Anybody who wants to privatize Eskom must privatize his assets and not public assets like Eskom.”
Also on Thursday, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed the National Treasury’s attempt to encourage greater private sector participation in electricity generation.
The DA has long advocated for the breaking of Eskom’s supply monopoly and the opening of the grid to independent power producers. The party says this will increase efficiency and productivity, and will go far in curtailing political interference.
“While encouraging the private sector to supply electricity is a good first step, we will never meaningfully solve the supply crisis unless the management of the national grid is finally taken away from Eskom and their monopoly broken once and for all,” said David Ross, DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Finance.
“While this is a step in the right direction, urgency is of utmost importance in order to limit the negative impact our electricity crisis is having on all South Africans and the economy. ”
Interrupted power supply has had a serious impact on the economy and job creation, as economists suggest that the ongoing power outages have caused a total loss of production amounting to over 300 billion rand (about 25 billion U.S. dollars).
“It is essential that this downward spiral is stopped,” Ross said.
The ordinary consumer cannot afford to bear the burden of this electricity crisis any longer, he said.
“Solving the energy crisis is of paramount importance as a national electricity disaster looms, which will all but destroy our economy and kill thousands of jobs.” Enditem

Source: Xinhua


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