Restructuring of Eskom a priority: Nxesi

Friday, September 27, 2019

A failure to fast track necessary changes to Eskom will continue to dampen growth and investment, Employment and Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi has warned.

The Minister fired the caution during the 24th Nedlac Annual Summit in Johannesburg on Thursday.

In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the restructuring of Eskom would see the power utility split into three business divisions into three separate operating entities.

“Any economic growth is invariably tied to a competitive electricity price, security of supply and a sustainable state-owned utility that will require significant restructuring,” said Nxesi.

The Minister said proposed restructuring, the filling of critical vacancies, an appropriate pricing structure and the role of IPPs should be a priority.

Nxesi said skills development for sustainable employment should be central to job creation, saying it should be reskilling our current workforce with portable skills in the labour market. “We need to prioritize life-long learning to enhance flexibility in employment opportunities, especially given rapid technological changes,” he said.

To address the country’s unemployment, Nxesi said it is important for the country to be forward-looking in its approach.

“As part of the global economy, we are now faced with the Fourth Industrial Revolution which has the potential to disrupt current work practices. You cannot resist new technology, but we will have to carefully manage the effects – adopting what the ILO (International Labour Organisation) refers to as ‘a human-centred agenda to manage the future of work,” the Minister said.  

In the first quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019, the formal sector lost 135 000 jobs. In contrast, the domestic and informal sectors gained 58 000 jobs.

South Africa’s GDP fell by 0.8% in seasonally adjusted terms from the last quarter of 2018 to the first quarter of 2019. This followed two quarters of marginally positive growth in the third and fourth quarters of 2018, which were preceded by a technical recession in the two quarters at the beginning of 2018.

“These figures highlight continued volatility in economic conditions as well as the general slowdown since the global financial crisis in 2008,” said Nxesi.

During his speech, the Minister added that creating more and quality jobs, is key to boosting growth, reducing poverty and increasing social cohesion.

“At the national level, job creation requires a stable macroeconomic framework coupled with structural policies that encourage innovation, skills and business development. And to address these objectives – whilst recognizing the leading role of government – also remains the responsibility of all the social partners.” –