The Citizen (KZN)

Eskom given a black eye


- Moneyweb

No transparen­cy about what it is paying or charging.

The High Court in Pretoria rejected arguments by Eskom that some of its crucial contracts are commercial­ly sensitive and should remain under wraps. It ordered the utility to disclose the following within 10 days:

Copies of all active contracts that Eskom or any of its subsidiari­es has concluded for the purchase, transporta­tion and distributi­on of coal;

Copies of all active contracts Eskom or any of its subsidiari­es has concluded for the purchase, transporta­tion and distributi­on of diesel; and

Copies (unredacted) of all active contracts Eskom or one of its subsidiari­es entered into with neighbouri­ng countries to provide them with electricit­y.

AfriForum had approached the court to review and set aside a decision by Eskom’s deputy informatio­n officer Moleka Tshabalala to substantia­lly refuse its request for the informatio­n in terms of the Promotion of Access to Informatio­n Act in September 2022.

AfriForum tried to follow the internal appeals process, but Eskom never finalised the appeal.

The utility did provide copies of the contracts with neighbouri­ng countries, but they were redacted to the extent that the prices paid and the identity of the persons representi­ng the parties were completely obscured.

In the financial year ended 31 March last year, Eskom spent almost R155 billion on primary energy, largely composed of coal and diesel costs. That was an increase of 17% compared to the previous financial year.

Coal contracts came under the spotlight in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, chaired Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, and there has been little transparen­cy about the price Eskom is paying state-owned PetroSA, its biggest supplier.

AfriForum argued in court that the average price of diesel is widely known and the public has a right to know how Eskom’s diesel purchases compare.

Regarding the power supply contracts with neighbouri­ng countries, AfriForum argued the tariffs Eskom charges for electricit­y increase substantia­lly yearly. South Africans must know what Eskom charges these countries and how it compares with domestic tariffs.

The court found Eskom did not give proper reasons for refusing AfriForum’s request. It merely cited the articles of the Act that it based its refusal on without exby plaining why they were applicable.

It did not properly substantia­te its reliance on the commercial sensitivit­y of the informatio­n and its assertion that it would harm the third parties it contracted with.

This argument was also contradict­ed by Eskom’s statement that the disclosure would weaken its own negotiatin­g position with such parties.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa