Eskom’s future needs to be decided within a month, says Pravin Gordhan

Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.
Public Enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan.

The debate over whether to split Eskom into three parts was urgent as a decision was needed in the next month, public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan told business leaders on Wednesday.

The comments indicate the speed with which government intends to move in restructuring the troubled utility, which supplies almost all of SA’s energy and whose financial and operational crises threaten to cripple the whole economy, with an eye to making decisions as soon as the tabling of the budget in February.

A task team set up by President Cyril Ramaphosa is to share its recommendations with the cabinet this week.

Recommendations include splitting Eskom into three separate state-owned companies dealing with generation, transmission and distribution, as well as a substantial debt bailout from government.

Eskom is in dire financial straits with R419bn in debt, which it is unable to service from its own revenue.

Gordhan said that problems at state-owned companies could not be solved without restructuring.

"Should we unbundle Eskom into three entities as is the practice worldwide?

"We are going to have that debate soon and move beyond debate if we are to have Eskom as a credible entity  both financially and operationally in a month’s time," he told Business Unity SA’s economic indaba in Midrand.

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