The Democratic Alliance (DA) can only but laugh at the ludicrous statements released by Minister Brown and Eskom alleging that Ms Natasha Mazzone MP, DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr Kevin Mileham MP, DA Shadow Minister of COGTA, and a group of DA supporters gained access illegally to Megawatt Park today and demanded to speak to Eskom CEO, Brian Molefe.
This is nothing more than a desperate attempt to draw attention away from our petition against the fact that while South Africa continues to grapple with an electricity shortage that has cost the economy billions and resulted in countless job losses, Eskom executives have been paid R73 million in ‘performance bonuses’ over the past 7 years.
The truth is that yesterday the DA arranged with Eskom to hand over a petition signed by 77,000 South Africans demanding that its executives repay their bonuses. The arrangement to receive the petition was made with Eskom Stakeholder Spokesperson, Mr Loyiso Jiya.
On arrival at Megawatt Park today, the MP’s approached the security gates and explained they were from the DA and wanted to hand over the petition. The security guards let them in no questions asked. The DA supporters then approached the security in a similar fashion and were ushered in too. The numerous security cameras on the site can attest to this.
Once parked, the group entered into the reception area where Ms Mazzone requested the receptionist to contact Mr Jiya with whom the arrangement had been made. The group was then asked by security to wait in the reception area and keep the passage way clear. These requests were adhered to.
After waiting more than 30 minutes, the facility manager approached Ms Mazzone and asked what she wanted. Ms Mazzone explained that she had arranged to meet Mr Jiya to hand over the petition. The facility manager then walked away and almost immediately Mr Molefe appeared in the reception area to meet Ms Mazzone.
Ms Mazzone, after exchanging a cordial greeting with Mr Molefe and wishing him a prosperous new year, proceeded to introduce Mr Mileham and the supporters. Ms Mazzone explained that she was expecting Mr Jiya, but was most pleased to see Mr Molefe. She explained the contents of the petition to him and he agreed to accept the documents. At this point he posed for a photo taken by a journalist. Again, all of the above can be confirmed by security camera footage.
Once the handover was complete, the group left Megawatt Park in a peaceful and non-disruptive manner.
It must be noted that in stark contrast to Minister Brown’s statement, this was not a protest. It was an arranged meeting with Mr Jiya to hand over a petition. Mr Jiya was fully aware of the purpose of the meeting and one can only speculate that perhaps he did not follow protocol appreciated by the Minister and Mr Molefe.
In retrospect however, now that Minister Brown has bought up the access to the facility, it is concerning that security simply granted access to the group without checking identification or checking the motor vehicles. The DA therefore demands that as a matter of urgency, the security at Megawatt Park is upgraded to ensure the safety of the facility.
Perhaps if Minister Brown spent as much time making sure the Eskom turbines spin as much as her response to the DA petition, the country would not be in the precarious energy supply situation it is in.
In their submission to Nersa in November 2015, in justification of a further electricity tariff increase, Eskom acknowledged that:
“Due to the constrained electricity system and level of generating plant performance, Eskom was required to operate a more expensive mix of generating plant compared to the assumptions in the MYPD3 decision in order to avoid/minimize load shedding.”
It is clear that South Africa has not emerged from the energy crisis and that all that is keeping us from load-shedding is the use of costly diesel fuelled generators. Eskom is now attempting to pass the cost of running these generators onto consumers.
The Minister can spin all she likes, but the fact of matter is that Eskom’s poor planning and mismanagement is to blame for the crisis and the economic damage it has caused. Paying performance bonuses to Eskom executives during this period simply cannot be justified.