Public Enterprises Minister, Pravin Gordhan, has urged partners to work with Eskom’s leadership to help the company transition from the grips of State capture, which has led to financial and operational difficulties that are currently facing the power utility.

“Eskom as an institution is very much in a transition phase in the past two years or so. It’s trying to remove itself from the grips of State capture both by political forces and by economic players as well,” Gordhan said.

Gordhan said there is still significant resistance to change by Eskom former managers and from some within Eskom itself.

“Eskom is acting wherever it can against corruption, both in terms of individuals and companies. Part of the actions to stop corruption requires effort and assistance from the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) partners, working together with Public Enterprises and Eskom leadership, to reinstate public and business confidence in Eskom,” Gordhan said.

As part of the work to stabilise electricity supply, Gordhan said government is currently procuring additional generation capacity from the market to alleviate the current shortages, and bring much needed capacity to rebuilding the economy.

Gordhan made the remarks at the Nedlac 25th Annual National Summit on Tuesday, where he, on behalf of government, signed the Framework Agreement for the Social Compact on supporting Eskom for Inclusive Economic Growth.

Gordhan signed the social compact, together with leaders of organised business, labour and community constituency, at the end of the summit on Tuesday.

At the end of 2019, social partners at Nedlac started negotiating the social compact, recognising that the resolution of the energy challenges was instrumental in ensuring the economic recovery of the country.

Gordhan emphasised the importance of energy security in the economy and the need to have a discussion with social partners on the cost of electricity, and the role it has in stimulating growth in different business sectors.

He said the social compact will allow partners to work together on “just transition” projects for the repurposing of old coal-powered stations, as part of mitigating against climate change, and transitioning them towards clean coal technologies.

“This will ensure that we lessen the impact of the lack of economic activity because of the closure of coal-powered stations. The partners must not forget the communities that are reliant on the economic activities in the areas that will be affected by the “just transition”, which will require the partners to make more effort to get alignment from communities in those towns,” the Minister said.

A copy of the social compact has been sent to Nedlac.

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