Statement by Andre Venter, spokesperson of the trade union UASA:
The suspension of Eskom’s top executives has to be dealt with on two separate levels.
The suspension may have come at the wrong time taking into account the challenges Eskom faces, but on the other hand, there may be a positive outcome if the upcoming inquiry is done for the right reasons.
The focus of the inquiry should be to get to the bottom of what is wrong at Eskom.
First and foremost, a proper maintenance audit needs to be conducted to find answers as to the exact status of maintenance cycles. More importantly, a clear picture needs to be found in respect of the quality of maintenance performed. Various subject matter experts have warned that outages occur mostly after maintenance work has been performed. This could point to problems with staffing levels, skills shortages and budgetary constraints.
Secondly, while the construction of the Kusile and Medupi power stations is yet to be finalised, it is still uncertain whether we will have sufficient reserves after completion. The inquiry should therefore clearly identify the current and the desired state in respect of our future growth requirements.
Thirdly, there is the threat of looming tariff increases. Statistics just released show that mining and manufacturing contributions have dropped significantly, which to a large extend is attributable to the unstable electricity supply. Topping this situation with tariff increases will severely hamper economic growth prospects.
UASA welcomes the inquiry and expresses the hope that it will have a positive outcome and will not turn out to be just another talk shop.
It will be interesting to note if the board of inquiry will really have “unfettered access” to information as promised by Zola Tsotsi, chairman of the Eskom board.