Eskom warns of load shed­ding risk

The New Age (Free State) - - POLITICS - DEN­NIS CRUYWAGEN news@the­newage.co.za

ESKOM has warned that South Africa was fac­ing the risk of load shed­ding be­cause it has not ac­quired the nec­es­sary coal sup­plies for win­ter.

The warn­ing was sounded in Par­lia­ment yes­ter­day by Eskom board chair­per­son Ben Ngubane.

He said Eskom had changed its pro­cure­ment poli­cies, which were be­ing fol­lowed in 2008 to deal with emer­gen­cies.

The down­side of this has cre­ated a po­ten­tial prob­lem. “Right now four sta­tions stand at risk of load shed­ding” be­cause it has not ac­quired the re­quired mil­lions of tons of coal for win­ter.

Ngubane yes­ter­day led an Eskom del­e­ga­tion, which in­cluded CEO Brian Molefe, that at­tended a meet­ing of the Stand­ing Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic Ac­counts.

Scopa was seek­ing an­swers and for clar­i­fi­ca­tion on Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers au­dit.

Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown was also at the meet­ing.

Brown in­formed Scopa of her in­ten­tions to ask the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­ga­tions Unit to ex­am­ine sev­eral Eskom con­tracts. She planned to ask a re­tired judge to look at the SIU’s fi­nal re­port.

Brown said that the is­sue of coal or raw ma­te­rial gen­er­ally was a very im­por­tant is­sue. “We’ve re­ally got to get to the bot­tom of coal pro­cure­ment across the board. I have said it be­fore, I’m im­ple­ment­ing a SIU in­ves­ti­ga­tion to look at all re­ports since 2007.”

Brown said Tegeta would be part of this process. “It’s an in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It would be com­pletely in­de­pen­dent.”

Scopa chair­per­son Themba Godi said the is­sues raised in the PWC re­port pointed to se­ri­ous ques­tions of non­com­pli­ance in re­la­tion to the Tegeta mine and three oth­ers.

He said: “The min­is­ter has come up with a pos­si­ble so­lu­tion so that we don’t have doubts hang­ing around with what is hap­pen­ing and not hap­pen­ing.”

Eskom also wel­comed Brown’s plans. Ngubane said “bring it on”.

He said: “I’m very happy the min­is­ter has brought in the SIU. As far as I’m con­cerned there is noth­ing crim­i­nal that we have done.”

In ex­plain­ing the Tegeta con­tract, Eskom, cit­ing an emer­gency, said that it started ne­go­ti­a­tions in 2013 and signed the con­tract two years later.

How­ever, National Trea­sury of­fi­cial Solly Tshi­tangano was scep­ti­cal of this rea­son.

He said: “Eskom was us­ing an un­so­licited bid be­cause of ‘emer­gency’. If you start ne­go­ti­at­ing in 2013 and you took two years to fi­nalise it I don’t see where the emer­gency is.”

At the hear­ing, vet­eran ANC MP Vin­cent Smith told Brown and Ngubane that Scopa did not call them out of “com­pli­ance” but be­cause of its over­sight role.

Scopa, he said, had a duty to safe­guard the tax­pay­ers’ money.

Men­tion­ing that the Tegeta con­tract was for a pe­riod of 10 years, of which three had passed, Smith said it was time to think about find­ing a so­lu­tion. He said there would be con­se­quences if it was found that the Pub­lic Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act had been vi­o­lated.

Ben Ngubane

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