Shadow Public Enterprises Minister Natasha Mazzone has called Eskom out for what she believes to be a dishonest misuse of public money. This comes after the power utility was given yet another emergency bailout by the government, following the late payment of a loan from the New Development Bank.
Eskom has now swallowed a further R17 billion after the Brics lenders didn’t provide the money before the end of March. The fact that Eskom is just one failed loan away from a crisis will fill no-one with any confidence.
Where has Eskom’s money gone?
On Sunday, it was reported that ex-Absa head Maria Ramos would be asked to steer Eskom’s sinking ship towards recovery. Despite a wealth of experience, not everyone is happy that she’s been roped in to help. In fact, the likes of Natasha Mazzone think that nothing can be done to make the power giants “viable and sustainable”.
The DA representative has also teed off at Eskom for failing to use their money from China responsibly. Mazzone accused them of ploughing billions into their diesel reserves and salary funds, just so they could keep the lights on before 8 May – the day South Africans go to the polls.
Natasha Mazzone suspects a conspiracy
She claims that the party have been “reliably informed” that none of the bailout money has gone towards maintaining the power plants as agreed. Instead, it’s apparently being funneled into a short-term solution to keep the electorate onside with the ANC:
“The DA has been reliably informed that Eskom is not using the Chinese Development Bank loan and the bailouts for maintenance of our power plants – which are the original sin that led to this crisis. They are using the money to literally pay salaries and keep the lights on by burning through billions of Rands worth of diesel until after the elections.”
“This means that South Africa will no doubt be plunged into darkness this winter once again as the ANC has misled the public about the gravity of the problems at Eskom. The reality is that Eskom cannot keep South Africa’s lights on because the business model of the entity is fundamentally broken.”
The DA has campaigned fiercely against the ruling party’s inability to contain the Eskom crisis. Some of the worst power-cuts experienced this century have coincided with the run-up to the 2019 Elections, and the official opposition has campaigned under the banner of #KeepTheLightsOn.
According to Mazzone, if load shedding is kept out of sight, it can be kept out of mind by the ANC. However, it’s unlikely that neither the MP nor her party will ease off the pressure any time soon.