The Fight Against Corruption
As announced by Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, corruption continues to plague Eskom, with 1,952 corruption-related cases reported to the South African Police Service since April 2022. Presented during the ministry’s Budget Vote Debate at Parliament’s Good Hope Chamber, the details of these cases illuminate the struggle Eskom is waging against corrupt practices.
Corruption, inclusive of state capture, has severely affected Eskom’s efficiency and is deemed a key contributor to its ongoing struggle to meet the country’s electricity generation demands.
A Closer Look at the Figures
Between 1 April 2022 and 29 May 2023, 1,405 out of the reported 1,952 cases remain under active investigation, resulting in 126 arrests. The subsequent year, from 1 April 2023 to 29 May 2023, saw an additional 302 cases reported, with 285 still being investigated and 31 arrests made.
Moreover, collaborative efforts between law enforcement and key interdepartmental stakeholders resulted in a further 214 arrests from combatting operations. The confiscated items have an estimated value of R89,933,212.
Progress Amid Challenges
Minister Ramokgopa views these figures as concrete proof that Eskom’s intensified anti-corruption initiatives are gaining traction. Despite the daunting challenges, the Minister remains positive that the implemented interventions are gradually improving the situation, disrupting the activities of criminal syndicates.
Dispelling Blackout Fears
Addressing fears propagated on social media regarding a possible complete blackout of the electricity grid, Minister Ramokgopa reassured the South African public of its improbability. Despite an increase in load shedding, the risk of a national blackout remains low. Load shedding serves as a tool to manage electricity demand, with multiple safeguards in place to prevent a total grid collapse.
Preparing for Winter: Plans to Boost the Grid
As winter starts to set in, the government and Eskom have proactive plans underway, which could potentially add 7,000MW to the grid. Key strategies include:
- Contracting 400MW from Kelvin power station and large-scale industrial producers, expected to be operational in the coming days.
- Maximizing the Open Cycle Gas Turbines to potentially contribute an additional 2,000MW.
- Incorporating 80MW from Mozambique’s Nacala Powership.
- Evaluating the use of City Power’s diesel generators, capable of producing up to 100MW, based on a cost-benefit analysis of a return-to-service refurbishment.
Despite these measures, Ramokgopa warned of an increased risk of supply shortfall against anticipated demand this winter, with worst-case scenarios suggesting intensified load shedding if interventions prove unsuccessful.