On Sunday, 24 March 2019, City Press reported that inside sources claimed that President Cyril Ramaphosa said the power utility would not be able to pay employee salaries.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has denied allegations claiming that President Cyril Ramaphosa told the organisation that Eskom might not be able to pay salaries in April. City Press reported that this insight was provided to them by a NUM leader who sat in the meeting held between NUM leaders, President Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom board CEO Jabu Mabuza last week.
The NUM leader told City Press that the financial woes at Eskom were so dire that the power utility had to get a loan from China.
“The president said he got a report that says that Eskom was not going to pay salaries at the end of April. But he also assured us that Eskom will pay salaries because they have got an arrangement with China about a loan for Eskom. He said the matter of paying salaries was then resolved. But on the future of Eskom, the president is saying that we must deeply engage on the issue of unbundling because, if we don’t unbundle, there is no way that we can get Eskom right,” a NUM leader said.
While NUM President Joseph Montisetse dismissed the allegations about salaries, he did confirm that President Ramaphosa informed the union of the government’s decision to take out a loan from the China Development Bank.
“The situation at Eskom is so severe that the government has to go out of its way to go and borrow money from the Chinese government to make sure that the salaries of workers are being paid throughout. That is what the president said to us,” Montisetse said.
In a positive turn of events, South Africans can temporarily put away their candles as the power utility reported that there is no load shedding anticipated for this week. However, it warned that the risk of load shedding was not permanently erased just yet.
“The improvement in plant performance, together with replenished diesel and water reserves over the last few days, as well as the increase of imports from Mozambique’s Cahora Bassa to 850MW, has positively shifted system performance,” Eskom said.