I've told Eskom to solve the load-shed crisis, and this is how: Gordhan
Ex-staffers must 'back off' and senior managers can't take year-end leave. Instead, they must prevent a dark Christmas
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has warned former Eskom managers to leave their replacements alone and let current board members do their job.
“We would like to send a message to those who like to issue tweets, former managers in Eskom: can you please take your hands off Eskom?” Gordhan said during a media briefing in Johannesburg on Thursday afternoon.
Gordhan – with Eskom chair Jabu Mabuza, Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe and other board members – was addressing the media on the affairs at the power utility.
It was not entirely clear who Gordhan was referring to, but former acting CEO Matshela Koko has been a vocal critic of Eskom’s new leadership on Twitter since his resignation earlier this year.
“Go find a job which will keep you busy, because if you think you are the most skilled individual in town, I’m sure you will have a job to do,” Gordhan said.
“Leave the Eskom management and board to do their bit. Don’t try treasonous things which are going to let Eskom perform less than its potential, even with the constraints that we have at the moment.
“Leave us alone. There is a brave management team and board that has a piece of work to do. Let them do the piece of work.”
That “piece of work”, according to Gordhan, will mean no senior managers will be allowed to take leave this festive season as scheduled power cuts – under the guise of “load shedding” – have hit the country over the last two weeks.
Gordhan said Eskom management will be working throughout the festive season to resolve the current operational problems at the power utility. Senior management’s leave has been cancelled, and they will be deployed to different power stations to assess the issues on the ground.
“Part of assessment that they need to make is the level of skill that is there on the ground. There are excellent people who might be sitting here at Megawatt Park [Eskom’s headquarters] who have good skills and they are sitting behind a desk and operating a computer.”
He said Eskom is in “emergency mode” and that when you are in a crisis “you deploy all your resources where they are most required”.
“Rather than sitting here, can we deploy them at power station level to provide the experience and the skill that is required in order to undertake some of the work,” he said.
He said the object was to “get rid of” stage 2 power cuts.
Gordhan said there are also concerns over the new Kusile and Medupi power plant projects. He said three units at Medupi and a number at Kusile are not providing the 7,800 megawatts of electricity as required.
“What we are discovering as a result of an investigation by Eskom is that the original manufacturers are doing a substandard job. There will be consequences for them going forward,” he said.
He said his department has only one energy expert and that the institution faces challenges in coal and diesel supply.
Despite this, Gordhan said Eskom is working around the clock to prevent a dark Christmas. To this end, power cuts are not expected between December 15 and January 15.
Gordhan said he has instructed the Eskom board to put together an action plan on a week-by-week basis.
“That plan must state very clearly who is taking responsibility, and what is expected in terms of assessing the key parts of the power station and where the weakness in this power station might be,” he said.
Meanwhile, Eskom chair Jabu Mabuza said all South Africans are responsible for power cuts, and it is a pain that the entire country has to bear.
“Either through our people or our government … but these are problems that we have all caused. There is a role that we all have to play; shareholders, providers of capital, staff, customers. This the choice of pain we need to take to going forward to try and put us back in a sustainable way,” Mabuza said.
He said inadequate maintenance of power plants has added to the situation at Eskom.
“We did not maintain like we should have maintained. Like all mechanical stuff, if you don't maintain it, it is subject to wear and tear.”