Veering from one disaster to the next, Eskom has become synonymous with catastrophe. Their troubles seem to have intensified in 2019, following a devastating load shedding schedule and further incompetent management. The firm’s CEO Phakamani Hadebe also resigned over the weekend, compounding the misery.
Eskom are certainly in the lurch right now: Their debts have scaled the R400 billion mark, and they’ve been slapped with a R36 billion bill for maintenance work to the new Kusile Power Plant. The DA have staunchly campaigned to shake things up at the utility, and Natasha Mazzone is preparing to lead the latest charge.
How would privatising Eskom work?
The shadow public enterprises minister revealed on Sunday that she and her party would be re-tabling the Independent Systems Market Operator (ISMO) Bill, more commonly known as the Cheaper Energy Bill. Should this gain approval in the National Assembly, it would be the first step towards privatisation for Eskom.
“Eskom’s monopolistic stranglehold on electricity production and distribution must be broken. The DA has a plan to stabilise and secure South Africa’s power supply and that is contained in our Cheaper Energy Bill, which will be re-tabled in Parliament.”
“Our bill seeks to break Eskom into two separate entities – a generation and a transmission/distribution entity. This would reduce the cost of electricity, bring about much-needed competition and ensure that South Africa is not being forced to pay for the corruption which has taken place at Eskom.”
Natasha Mazzone explains “Cheaper Energy Bill”
In Natasha Mazzone’s own words, “Eskom can then be privatised in part or full over time once it has been split-up“. The bill aims to pit the generational side of Eskom against Independent Power Producers (IPPs), in order to generate healthy competition and affordable electricity prices across the board.
The DA have already written to Parliament’s new Speaker Thandi Modise, asking for an urgent debate over the Eskom crisis. The official opposition must now re-submit their bill and canvas other political parties to support their agenda. But with the ANC and EFF fiercely critical of privatisation, this could be a real uphill battle for Mazzone.