President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africans that he is confident that issues at Eskom, which has been rolling out load shedding due to power plant breakdowns, will be resolved.
The President was briefing the media on Thursday in London on the outcomes of his State Visit to the United Kingdom (UK).
The two-day visit which began on Tuesday was at the invitation of His Majesty King Charles III.
The First Citizen told journalists that his dealings with Eskom date back to 2014 when he was appointed by President Jacob Zuma to lead a “war room” to address electricity challenges facing the country.
The Cabinet had announced it had devised a five-point plan to deal with the electricity crisis, which the “war room” had to implement.
“There came a time when I said, the process of the war room is best closed down so that we have a CEO who will be directly involved in addressing the challenges of Eskom.”
However, according to the President, the so-called “war room” had too many “entry points”.
“Everyone was trying to put their fingers in trying to resolve the problems. I even suggested that Brian Molefe should be appointed as CEO because I did believe that his capabilities would help address the challenges. But, little did I know he was entangled in all the number of things.”
According to the President, Eskom's challenges did not start now.
He said there was a period where no maintenance was done.
“I met someone who was a manager at Eskom who said they were stopped from maintaining for 12 years. The power stations were driven hard and the instruction was to keep the lights on. No wonder today, we’re reaping the whirlwind because a number of errors were committed,” he said.
“Eskom woes and problems didn’t start even in 2014, but way earlier and we will need to go back seven years or more.”
Meanwhile, he said the State-owned entity is a huge machinery that costs billions.
“You need all the skills and capabilities and because these are machines; it’s like a car, they can’t run for years without being serviced. Because if you do that, it will break down.”
In addition, when the decision was finally taken to build new power stations, the experienced Eskom staffers had left after they were told that none would be built, he added.
“What then you were left with were outsiders who weren’t involved daily in the workings of Eskom and now we have design problems that have come to the fore that are a big challenge at the new power stations that were built that we had hoped would be our saviour,” he explained.
“We’re now trying to fix the plane as it is flying. We’re generating electricity and power stations keep breaking, as many of them are old.”
However, he said he had confidence that the new Eskom board and management would turn things around.
The President said Eskom is also working on lessening power cuts, as it tries to resolve the myriad of issues including its debt burden.
“Obviously, it’s very easy to blame the President and government and yet, these problems have come way back from the past,” he stressed.
“However, I have enormous confidence that we will solve these problems.”
President Ramaphosa is the first Head of State to be hosted for a State Visit under the reign of King Charles III.
His Majesty and the Queen Consort welcomed President Ramaphosa at Horse Guards in London on Tuesday. – SAnews.gov.za