South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) President Cyril Ramaphosa led the party’s 108th anniversary celebrations on Saturday, 11 January 2020, and assured the nation that the embattled power utility Eskom would be rebuilt to better serve the nation.
Ramaphosa was speaking when he delivered the party’s so-called 8 January Statement at the Tafel Lager Stadium in Kimberley in the Northern Cape Province.
The statement outlined what the government, under the party’s guidance, would deliver during the year under his leadership.
Ramaphosa also acknowledged the province’s current drought-hit status, which has left his government worried about its food security.
In this regard, the president said his government would pump US$20 million to the province’s farmers to mitigate their situation.
As for Eskom, the crucial power supplier to the nation’s social and economic life, its situation has become the country’s hottest political potato due to poor service delivery.
The President said: “Eskom is the largest company in our country. We will not allow Eskom to fail. We will rebuild it so that it can execute its developmental mandate.”
According to him, “Eskom will be restored to becoming a company that can provide energy. We are not going to privatise Eskom. We are going to strengthen Eskom so it can deliver energy as it should.”
He said his government was addressing citizens’ concerns about Eskom’s load shedding (power rationing), which has become regular now to the detriment of industries and South Africans.
“Right now, we understand the concerns South African’s have about the load shedding we have almost on a daily basis. These are challenges we are addressing,” the South African leader stated.
He however, acknowledged that “obviously this has a negative impact on the economy and our people, particularly those in hospitals.”
“We urgently need Eskom management to move with speed to restore the power stations and ensure that new energy we will procure should come on stream.”
The President delivered his speech a day after Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza had resigned over the utility’s failure to perform.
Now critics, especially the unions, are calling for the head of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to roll.
Gordhan oversees Eskom and other state-owned firms whose performances have also come under great criticism for their failure to deliver good public service.