'We will get our money back,' Ramaphosa warns Eskom looters

President Cyril Ramaphosa described Eskom as a huge risk to the economy, saying he did not know of any other company that was R430bn in debt.
President Cyril Ramaphosa described Eskom as a huge risk to the economy, saying he did not know of any other company that was R430bn in debt. 
Image: Esa Alexander

President Cyril Ramaphosa says the government will go after people who stole money from Eskom, promising that “we will get our money back”. 

Speaking in dialogue with the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese communities in Germiston on Tuesday evening, Ramaphosa said there was a combination of problems that led to stage four load-shedding across the country. 

“Eskom holds all the eggs ... in its basket. Therefore the malfeasance and the corruption and the wrong things that began at Eskom have impacted the nation. Now the chickens have come home to roost,” he said. 

Ramaphosa explained that besides corruption at Eskom, faulty designs at Medupe and Kusile power stations, aged power stations and cyclone Idai in Mozambique affected energy supply, which led to widespread power outages. 

“The combination of all these things have landed us where we are,” Ramaphosa told the audience.

The president described Eskom as a huge risk to the economy, saying he did not know of any other company that was R430bn in debt. 

But he said that he did not want to see the country gripped by stage four load-shedding.

“We are still going to have challenges but I want to avoid stage four load-shedding. I want to see load-shedding minimised as we work on maintenance, as we restructure Eskom, as we get the finance properly raised, as we increase the technical level and as we do all these things,” he said. 

When asked by a community member whether Eskom and other state owned enterprises (SOEs) should be privatised, Ramaphosa said the power utility would not be privatised. 

“We are essentially saying we are not on a privatisation process but we are going to work with the private sector to strengthen the balance sheet,” Ramaphosa said. 

He further said that the restructuring of Eskom by unbundling it into three entities was an effort to raise capital for the ailing utility. 

Representatives from the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese communities used the occasion to pledge their support for the ANC. 

Ramaphosa said he knew the ANC would win the elections. When he was asked about the effect of political instability on investment, Ramaphosa said South Africa was merely going through "election fever". 

“Instability my foot. We will not have instability here in South Africa. It's just election fever. I firmly believe South Africa will take off," he said. 

Ramaphosa said the party was not considering the possibility of coalitions after the elections, saying in most countries coalitions did not work. He was confident the party would retain a majority. 

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