My name is Laura Oneale. I’m a writer for the Guardian Liberty Voice and I am honored the EKP share my work. I sincerely hope my articles covering events in and around South Africa will be engaging, truthful and a journey of interaction between the readership and myself. To join me discussing this and other issues please join our new facebook group. Also please comment below so I know what the EKP audience thinks of the ongoing Eskom saga for future reference.
First, the good news.
Eskom, South Africa’s energy giant, continues to boast huge profits. In fact 2014 was a record breaking year in part due to Chinese investment and economic expansion in Chinese owned companies. Again, Chinese.
A net profit of R7.1 billion was announced last week, and although this figure is R5.2 billion more than the previous year, it is still well below projected revenue forecasts.
Either way it’s a massive profit for the state-owned sector to achieve.
President Jacob Zuma must be smiling, and wondering how he can grab the money to enhance his electricity supply at Nkandla and the rest of the Zulu tribal properties around Kwazulu Natal. My guess Eskom’s enormous profits will procure more than a few generators and gallons of diesel for the exclusive use of the president and his growing family, and Zuma will now be able to afford a few more wives.
Please excuse my cyinicism, but President Zuma’s track record for using public funds and profits generated by our nation’s industries for his own use, speaks for itself.
According to Eskom, business is booming, our power supply in good shape, and they’re making the right decision to ensure we’ll be set for the long term. Eskom said as much in a statement I found on their website.
Eskom has integrated sustainable development issues into decision-making for many years. Given that our sector is long term in nature and that many decisions have implications for decades, it is vital that we take robust and responsible decisions.
It is a comforting to know that Eskom makes ‘robust and responsible decisions,’ however, should their words be taken seriously, given the fact that load shedding and blackouts are still a common occurrence in South Africa? In light of the fact we didn’t have these issues only 20 years ago?
Let’s look for a moment at how Eskom has done over the past 20 years.
1994 – Operated 37,636MK of generating capacity
2000 – Electrification to over two million RDP houses. Racial equity in management.
2003 – Klipheuvel wind farm commissions, decision to service mothballed Camden, Grootvlei and Komati power stations.
2005 – Over R10 million spent on black economic empowerment.
2007 – Construction of Medupi and Kusile power stations starts.
2008 – Load shedding implemented as supply and demand factors place the power grid under duress
2009 – Five open-cycle gas turbine units completed
2011 – USD 1.75 billion raised by Eskom issuing a US dollar bond
2013 – Camden power station completed
2014 – Eskom spends R119,4 million with B-BBEE compliant suppliers, R132,9 million spent on corporate social investment projects. More than 4.5 million homes electrified since 1991.
Both supply and demand have increased significantly since 1994 with national population increasing from 39 million people to 53 million in 2013. Statistics reveal that operational power stations were fully functional in 1994 and that several new power plants have been commissioned but not completed.
Eskom has met that demand by employing thousands more individuals, contributing to job growth that undeniably had to be undertaken in order to expand the power supply. They’ve also done a lot to see affirmative action policies have been put into practice, replacing thousands of retiring white employees, with new black blood-as instructed by African National Congress (ANC) officials.
Eskom has also met the enormous demands of the labour unions representing its employees. Employees enjoy a rich benefits package in in the form of social security payments, free lunches, medical aid, and lucrative pension funds-the rest of us can only dream of.
Governed by the Solidarity, National Union of Mine Workers and NUMSA unions, employees often turn to these representatives for leadership, guidance and new and improved ways to pillage the nation. The unions often raise impractical demands for management to execute, which impact us in the form of increased energy prices.
They’ve also made sure senior management has been well remunerated for their work. Let’s just say no one at Eskom is feeling the economic pinch most of us are suffering through. Last year’s salaries were at an all time high, with senior management raking in enormous salaries.
So with all that growth, massive profits, expansion why haven’t they been able to deliver us a consistent power supply?
What’s with all the blackouts?
Instead of owning up to their failings, quite typically, Apartheid continues to be blamed for Eskom’s shortcomings – both by ANC party execs and party mouthpieces on Eskom’s payroll. From the blackouts, to the strikes, increase in energy prices and deplorably poor service, apparently it’s still Apartheid’s fault.
Something about SA being in a ‘transitionary period.’
A senior analyst for Eskom told us this past week that, he believed that both the ANC and National governments were to blame for the failures but people needed to recall that the government was still in a transitionary period since being ‘released from Apartheid’s racist hold.”
“I feel collectively the ANC and National Government along with Eskom to a certain extent share the blame for this current crisis. I include the government under apartheid, who were also aware of the power supply problem and because of racism didn’t plan for electricity to be given to people they knew would need it eventually-namely blacks. Even though it seems 20 years is a long time, it takes a minimum of 10 years to put together a power plant, and because the Apartheid government didn’t plan for electricity being sent to black communities, we are in the mess we are in.”
Hilarious. It is STILL whitey’s fault.
It couldn’t be the fact that affirmative action policies have rendered Eskom planners as inept as…our government?
The fact that prior to 1994 under the National Party, there were no such blackouts (it’s politically incorrect to say ‘blackouts’), and tariffs were low, seems an inconvenient reality.
But yeah, because it takes a few years to build a power plant we still have the ability to blame the National government. How convenient!
And then there’s been the weather. Yeah, good old rain.
The most-surprising excuse I was given was the cockamamie story about rain wetting the coal reserves. Since when must the rain be blamed, for the coal being wet? Do the coal-fired power stations not have the facilities to ensure that the coal’s been dried prior to it’s been prepped for combustion? Wasn’t there rain under apartheid?
Although we have become accustomed to Apartheid being used an excuse, it is intensely disturbing to note that the African National Congress (ANC) has become so dependent on using it as a crutch, they are now literally blaming everything on it!
Indeed, it would appear that every ANC government since 1994 has been populated by cowards and fools. They just do not seem to have the guts and pride to sort out their own mess, so apartheid continues to be blamed. By doing this, they are in fact perpetuating apartheid by showing themselves to be the incompetents we were told they were-something they’ve yet to grasp.
During Apartheid’s economic boom, the world was garnering immense returns on its investment in South Africa, made possible by national leadership.
Today, under Eskom’s ‘affirmative action’ leadership, the opposite is true.
Load shedding, blackouts and continuous employee grouses are the theme at Eskom. The outrageous increases in tariffs are ongoing and even with a sizeable profit, the issues impacting South Africa’s energy consumers are still nowhere near being resolved.
Funnily enough, South Africa supplies neighboring countries with up to forty-five percent of the power it generates. No wonder there’s no end to load shedding and blackouts have become as commonplace as farm murders.
By Laura Oneale