Cape Town – The DA on Monday said its private member’s bill aimed at dismantling Eskom’s monopoly would be an interesting test to see whether the ANC was serious about viable solutions to bring South Africa out of its economic crisis.
“Certainly, if they try to block this bill and try to block discussion on this bill, it will be indicative of the fact that they don’t care that South Africans are suffering on a daily basis by how much they pay for electricity and basic services,” DA spokesperson Natasha Mazzone said.
Mazzone made the statement when she and DA leader Mmusi Maimane addressed a media briefing in Parliament on their Independent System and Market Operator (Ismo) Bill.
Maimane said Ismo was key to the DA’s plans to revive the economy, fast-track growth and open up access to new jobs.
“It goes without saying that the only way to keep electricity down for consumers is to introduce competition in the electricity market,” Maimane said.
He noted that over the past decade, Eskom’s electricity prices had increased by about 356% while inflation over the same period was 74%.
“We can’t sit with this dogma that we have where we have monopoly in energy as put forward by Eskom and say we must continue.”
Maimane charged that Eskom knew that if they didn’t do things right, they had a rich uncle in the fiscus business who would bail them out.
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“We are of the view that Eskom must be split into two companies. The first is a company to focus on power production, and the second is a distribution business which will allow cities to purchase directly from independent power producers (IPPs),” he said.
He said financially viable metros should be allowed to choose where to purchase electricity as opposed to buying only from Eskom.
Mazzone said the government had in the 1998 Energy White Paper agreed that Eskom would be restructured into separate generation and transmission companies.
“We know through state capture that there was good reason why the Eskom monopoly had to stay – pieces of Eskom would be sold to the highest bidder – and how close the country was held to ransom by one electricity supplier.”
She said Finance Minister Tito Mboweni had noted that “Eskom’s weak financial position remains a risk that could lead to a call on guarantees”.
“This is a zombie state-owned entity that is leeching off money from the fiscus. South Africans cannot continue to bail out this zombie. It is not sustainable for the economy,” she said.
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