By Jabu Kumalo

Eskom is run by an “inept, clueless” management, and the problem of blackouts is here to stay.

Until those at the helm are removed, we should brace ourselves for many dark days and nights. This is the view of energy experts, unionists, politicians and other leaders. Some strongly believe the power utility is not telling Mzansi the real truth about the state of affairs at Eskom.

According to energy analyst, Tshepo Kgadima, the blackouts at Eskom are tantamount to “economic treason”.

On whether we will see the back of blackouts anytime soon, he said: “No and No and No.

“There can be no legitimate expectation from Eskom management and even the government for South African households and industries to continue to rely on Eskom for electricity supply.”

Kgadima told The Telegram: “Blackouts, aka load-shedding, are totally unwarranted but contrived to break up Eskom for sale to privateers at “bargain basement” prices. This is economic treason. It is now an evidently established fact that Eskom is run by a totally inept board, management and a government minister. It is patently clear that all of them do not know either the difference between energy and electricity or the difference between a megawatt and a megawatt per hour, hence the absurd energy policies and bizarre management practices they implement.

“There can be no hope therefore that they can run Eskom to reclaim its glory days as one of the largest integrated power utilities in the world, which was also the lowest cost producer and supplier of electricity.”

Asked if the problems at Eskom can be fixed, Kgadima gave a resounding: “Absolutely!”

He said the people of South Africa must demand, through Parliament, that Eskom must summarily dismiss the current board and management and hire a new board and management who have in-depth knowledge and experience of the business of electricity and the technical architecture of South Africa’s energy system as designed by the great industrialist Dr Hendrik Van Der Bijl.

He said there are many competent professionals in the country who can fix this mess.

“There are many of us with the appropriate regulatory, industry, technical and business leadership experience and expertise who are overlooked by the evidently comprador government which advances totalitarian policies at the behest of parochial interests of greedy profiteering privateers.

He said by their own account, André De Ruyter, of Eskom, said they are planning “to mothball 16,000 megawatts of baseload coal-fired power by 2030 and increase intermittent energy sources (solar and wind power) onto Eskom’s high-voltage unitary grid in a feeble attempt to meet the so-called energy transition goals”.

Kgadima warned: “This will certainly heighten the risks of blackouts and a total energy system collapse which carries even more catastrophic effects as it would take 21-28 days to bring the energy system back.

“South Africa’s security agencies will only be in a position to keep law and order for seven days and then total chaos will ensue as there will be no supplies of water, liquid fuels, food, health services, etc.”

Kgadima has labelled President Cyril Ramaphosa as a president who “obdurately fails and or refuses to fire the grossly incompetent Minister Pravin Gordhan” and some Eskom executives.

He has even gone on to say Ramaphosa might be complicit in these peoples’ acts of economic sabotage by refusing to fire them.

“Shakespeare aptly put it, ‘heavy is the head that wears the crown’.

“Right now, the crown is on President Ramaphosa’s head and he is sworn to an oath to uphold the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and act solely in the best interests of the people of South Africa.

“Based on the facts, since December 2014 when Ramaphosa was put in charge of the so-called Eskom war room, which was unlawfully constituted in any case, he presided over a total mess at Eskom, which has lamentably since received over R170 billion in bailouts from National Treasury.

“Ramaphosa has made patently wrong judgment calls on Eskom, which brought about economically and financially devastating consequences and thus not only demonstrable of his incapacity and gumption but squarely placing him as the chief architect of the Eskom mess,” he said.

The power utility recently blamed Zambia for our electricity woes, which Kgadima called “nonsensical”.

“The so-called major event in Zambia that purportedly affected the Apollo-Cahora Bassa HVDC line is contrived nonsense, to say the least. It is not surprising therefore that management at Eskom could not adequately explain the causal link between frequency surges on the Zambian grid and the Cahora Bassa generating units that feed electricity via a dedicated high voltage direct current line to the Apollo converter station in South Africa near Tembisa.”

Another Energy analyst Chris Yelland, in an interview with City Press, said problems could escalate in January as Eskom is expected to continue with major planned maintenance at Cape Town’s Koeberg power station.

“What worries me is that one of Koeberg’s units will have to be taken offline for five months in January,” he said.

“When that unit is returned to service, it will be the turn of the other one. This means that generating capacity of about 900MW won’t be available for most of next year,” said Yelland.

Eskom has cautioned in its summer load shedding forecast for 2021/2022 that its system will remain severely pressured.

Mzansi must brace itself for more dinners the old-fashioned way…by candlelight.

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