South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday said the government will announce a permanent CEO for state-run Eskom soon. The struggling power utility reintroduced massive blackouts last week disrupting the lives of millions of people in their homes, workplaces and businesses.
“We will soon be announcing the appointment of a permanent Eskom CEO who, together with a strengthened board, will be tasked with turning the entity around,” Ramaphosa said, reported Reuters.
He added that government will shortly release a special paper that will assist the new CEO and other board members in turning the entity around.
Furthermore, the President promised to take significant steps to address the country’s energy woes, including the long-planned restructuring of Eskom into three entities, improving the company’s credit rating and tackling the high levels of debt owed to the company by defaulting municipalities, government departments and individual customers.
In his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa blamed non-payment for the utility’s problems.
“Our citizens deserve to be able to conduct their lives, go to school and operate their businesses confident that they will not be plunged into darkness without warning. At the same time, as citizens, we must understand that when we do not pay, we are part of the problem,” the South African president said.
Eskom supplies about 95% of the country’s power and is seen as the biggest risk to the economy. The power utility is under a total debt of R450bn and is surviving on state bailouts after huge cost overruns at two partially completed coal-fired power plants. Its debt burden is approaching R500bn.
The people had to face four days of controlled blackouts last week to prevent the total collapse of the grid. Eskom cited breakdowns in their plants as the cause of these cuts and promised a return to normalcy soon.