Eskom warns of load shedding risk
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.