ANC will not privatise Eskom; Consumers Bear Brunt Rather Than Economy

BY TAI CHISHAKWE - NOVEMBER 25, 2014

The African National Congress (ANC) will not support the privatisation of the country's power system - even despite problems at Eskom, Secretary General Gwede Mantashe said.

"Electricity remains a public good and therefore, if you totally privatise it, it will have problems," Mantashe told reporters at the ANC’s headquarters at Luthuli House, in Johannesburg.

Eskom resorted to rolling blackouts over the weekend and declared a power emergency with large industrial customers on Sunday. It has said the country's power supply is likely to remain "constrained for the foreseeable future".

Mantashe, however, said the ANC acknowledged there were problems at a number of state-owned companies.

"What we are registering is that, as the ANC, we are concerned about what is happening in a number of SOCs.

"We must pay attention to that and try to address the problems that are emerging there."

Meanwhile, consumers bearing the brunt of load shedding rather than business

Eskom has reportedly recently changed its thinking about load shedding and, with the blessing of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), households rather than industry will bear the brunt going forward. It is also by design that load shedding occurred during the weekend, when it is less disruptive to the economy.

“It is the lesser of two evils,” Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger told Moneyweb.

In September, Moneyweb also reported that Eskom had applied to Nersa for amendments to the load shedding protocol in order to limit the damage to the economy.

Etzinger confirmed on Monday that the application was granted and two instances of countrywide load shedding in November were the result of the new approach. He also said Eskom does not expect load shedding to be a regular occurrence going forward, but if it happens, it will preferably be over weekends and residential customers will be affected before industry.

While Eskom sticks to its published schedules, it is clear that some municipalities are struggling, Etzinger said. Eskom is trying to assist municipalities in this regard.

Customers can at any time go to http://loadshedding.eskom.co.za/ to check whether Eskom is load shedding and, if so, what stage of load shedding is being implemented. The website also contains a link to Eskom and municipal distributors’ load shedding schedules.