SA’s neigh­bours owe Eskom R632m

Business Day - - FRONT PAGE - Carol Pa­ton Writer at Large pa­[email protected]­nesslive.co.za

For­eign gov­ern­ments owe Eskom R632m in out­stand­ing pay­ments, pub­lic en­ter­prises minister Pravin Gord­han said in re­ply to a par­lia­men­tary ques­tion pub­lished on Thurs­day.

For­eign gov­ern­ments owe Eskom R632m in out­stand­ing pay­ments, pub­lic en­ter­prises minister Pravin Gord­han said in a re­ply to a par­lia­men­tary ques­tion pub­lished on Thurs­day.

DA MP Natasha Maz­zone, who asked the ques­tion, said Gord­han’s re­ply re­vealed that the Zim­babwe Elec­tric­ity Sup­ply Au­thor­ity (Zesa) owes Eskom R322m; the Mozam­bi­can na­tional util­ity owes R221m; and the Zam­bian util­ity R89m.

Gord­han said that due to Zim­babwe’s eco­nomic and political chal­lenges it has been un­able to hon­our its debt obli­ga­tions. “Eskom and Zesa cur­rently have a pay­ment plan agree­ment for the set­tle­ment of the debt and Zesa is pay­ing off the debt as per the agree­ment.”

In the case of the Elec­t­ri­ci­dade de Moçam­bique (EDM), which Eskom sup­plies with standby power, Gord­han said: “The util­ity has fi­nan­cial con­straints due to their gen­er­a­tion mix, which in­cludes in­de­pen­dent power pro­duc­ers [IPPs] that are con­tracted on a take-or­pay ba­sis.”

A take-or-pay ba­sis means that the util­ity must buy power from IPPs even when the grid does not re­quire it.

In the case of Zam­bia, util­ity Zesco owes Eskom for power sup­plied dur­ing a drought, while Eskom owes Zesco “for an en­ergy im­bal­ance [aris­ing] out of man­ag­ing the re­gional sys­tem”. The par­ties are in ne­go­ti­a­tion over a pay­ment plan.

Gord­han said “funds could as­sist min­i­mally with Eskom’s cash flows” and that “Eskom will en­sure fu­ture con­tracts are de­signed to avoid build-up of debt”. Maz­zone dis­agrees that the col­lec­tion of these debts would have “min­i­mal im­pact”.

“The re­al­ity is that ev­ery cent counts when the power util­ity has a moun­tain of debt in the area of more than R420bn. Half a bil­lion rand is an as­ton­ish­ing amount of money and could, in the long term, go a long way in sta­bil­is­ing the fi­nan­cial woes at Eskom,” she said.

Maz­zone said she has writ­ten to Gord­han to re­quest that the pay­ment plans are made pub­lic.

EV­ERY CENT COUNTS WHEN THE POWER UTIL­ITY HAS A MOUN­TAIN OF DEBT OF MORE THAN R420BN

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