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DA: Statement by Pieter van Dalen, Democratic Alliance shadow deputy minister of public enterprises, on Eskom (10/03/2010)

10th March 2010


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Yesterday in the Public Enterprises committee meeting, Eskom confirmed that the top 138 energy users only pay between 6c and 9c per kilowatt hour - and that the details of the tariff increases for these users will be kept confidential due to "commercial confidentiality". Even worse, the top 10 users will not be affected by the increase in electrify tariffs.

We understand that some of the tariffs changed to these high-end users have remained unchanged since before 1994. While it is the case that the largest users of electricity should derive some benefit from bulk-consumption, it is also highly problematic that it seems as if these users have not had a change to their electricity costs as the rest of the country have had to experience. Crucially, it is also ridiculous that Eskom cannot tell Parliament who is deriving these benefits, under the auspices that that is information that cannot be released due to commercial sensitivity. It is even worse that Eskom has refused to reveal this information before Nersa - the body which is tasked with adjudicating on the legitimacy of tariff increases. If Nersa has been left in the cold on these crucial facts, then it calls into question the legitimacy of the tariff hike decision.

The DA has posed parliamentary questions to the Minister of Public Enterprises on the details of the agreements between the 138 companies and Eskom, and will follow up on the information within the parliamentary committee.

Eskom cannot hide behind commercial sensitivity as a reason not to disclose this information, because a perception is rapidly being created that there are favours being done. Without Parliament being informed who is benefiting, there is no way of knowing whether this is or is not the case. Eskom is a public entity. In recent years it has become more of a playground for ANC cadres than an energy supply operation. If Eskom, for instance, is now delivering cheaper energy to certain organisations with ties to the ANC, then, like the Chancellor House fiasco, it will again be a case of Eskom's internal policy benefiting ANC coffers. Eskom needs to provide proof to the contrary, since it seems extraordinary that some users would be able to receive electricity for just a fraction of what the rest of the country would be obliged to pay.

Parastatals cannot keep crucial information away from Parliament, using flimsy excuses. As with the SAA debacle yesterday - with the CEO failing to appear before the portfolio committee on public enterprises - parastatals are rapidly becoming a law upon themselves. The ANC's so-called developmental state, in which parastatals play a defining role, has now spawned a generation of parastatals that is not accountable to anyone. This is a severe indictment of the minister if public enterprises, Barbara Hogan: her department is filled with parastatals gone rogue.



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