Electricity privatisation ‘heist’ a danger to SA

The unbundling of Eskom is being implemented. Picture: Henk Kruger/Independent Newspapers

The unbundling of Eskom is being implemented. Picture: Henk Kruger/Independent Newspapers

Published Mar 31, 2024


Tshepo Kgadima

THERE is a plot to stage a R3.1 trillion heist at Eskom before the May 29 general elections. It is my patriotic duty and obligation to expose the plot, not only in this op-ed but also more comprehensively in my upcoming book on Eskom, The Symphony Interrupted: The Demise of an Energy Titan.

The imminent privatisation of Eskom by stealth, beginning with the “unbundling” of the so-called National Transmission Company of South Africa (NTCSA), which has a vast unparalleled transmission network of more than 33 000km and is valued in excess of R3.1 trillion, constitutes an elaborate grand heist whereby, as recently witnessed with the failed SAA deal, the NTCSA’s valuable asset base is set to be bequeathed by Cyril Ramaphosa’s regime to greedy profiteering economic hitmen.

Frédéric Bastiat aptly put it: “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men (comprador bourgeoisie) in a society (South Africa), over the course of time they create for themselves a legal system that authorises it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

The sixth administration of Ramaphosa, who, to all intents and purposes, is an imperial president, has, in the sunset hours of his regime, rushed through the patently inept and indolent National Assembly (Parliament) several pieces of legislation to enable that which he has apparently “_thumamina’d_” to do by economic neo-colonialists.

South Africa is undoubtedly set on lamentable path to being another “Sad African Republic”, condemned to the Dark Ages and a state of arrested economic development characterised by energy poverty and exorbitant electricity tariffs for the undue enrichment of the greedy profiteering rent-seeking privateers.

Buoyed by their success over the past decade in having facilitated a R1.4 trillion heist through the so-called renewable energy independent power producers programme, the ANC-led government appears to be accelerating in top gear to execute a prodigiously sinister plot to plunder and loot geostrategic public assets on an unprecedented industrial scale, with the unlawful unbundling of Eskom a classic case in point.

The patently illegal and unconstitutional policy decision to burden the nascent NTCSA with highly toxic and financially onerous power purchase contracts with the so-called renewable energy independent power producers who earn 6.5 times more than Eskom spends to produce a kilowatt hour of electricity.

The NTCSA is going to be forced to purchase 100% redundant (undeliverable) electricity from the so-called renewable energy independent power producers at an average cost of R2.32 per kilowatt-hour against Eskom Generation’s primary energy generation cost of 44 cents/kWh and, therefore, violating Section 217 of the Constitution as well as provisions of the Public Finance Management Act.

The unlawful and unconstitutional acts evidence the sinister plot to induce conditions of insolvency, so that the vast NTCSA network worth in excess of R3.1 trillion can be “sold off” to the rent-seeking privateers for less than the price of a cappuccino, as was achieved with Transnet and attempted with SAA.

The South African public must be acutely aware that the used-to-be independent regulator Nersa, which does not regulate the cost of electricity generation but purports to regulate the electricity tariffs paid by electricity users which are, in turn, clandestinely circumvented by Eskom and municipalities through their patently corrupt back room deals with middlemen privateers, is by conduct complicit in the unwarranted conditions of financial hardship on Eskom and the economy.

The greedy profiteering middlemen earn more than R14 billion a year without delivering any tangible usable service to the electricity user.

Eskom suffers rampant corruption and looting in excess of R80bn a year through coal supply evergreen contracts, overpriced diesel purchases as well as the so-called renewable energy independent power producers power purchase agreements (REIPP PPAs) whereby Eskom is set to pay them an average price of R2.46 plus VAT per kilowatt hour for 100% redundant electricity from April 1, 2024.

All so-called REIPP PPAs should have been cancelled many years ago; around 2015, and save the hard-pressed electricity consumers from being robbed of R143 million a day by this greedy profiteering electricity Mafia.

The irregular creature, oddly called Ministry in the Presidency Responsible for Electricity, and legislation, such as National State Enterprises Bill, Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill, as well as the unlawful policy of unbundling of Eskom are arguably a ruse to give effect to the exact sort of deplorable plunder Frédéric Bastiat aptly described.

Henry Kissinger let the proverbial cat out of the bag when he wrote: “Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”

Indeed, the economic neo-colonialists are finally on the verge of totalitarian control with their imminent coup d’état of South Africa’s geostrategic energy and electricity system which is the requisite “oxygen and lifeblood” for sustainable economic growth, development and prosperity.

On the eve of the May 29 general elections, I, for one, have been astonished by the glaring lack of gumption by all political parties vying for seats in Parliament on effective lawful measures that must immediately be employed to put a grinding halt to the looting of Eskom under way.

Whether any of the political party leaders, after reading this op-ed, will become alive of the clear and present danger about to befall our country and thus timely rise to the occasion remains in great doubt, except we can all only remain prisoners of hope.

*Kgadima is a political and energy analyst

**The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of Independent Media or IOL