Eskom 'is not on the brink of financial collapse,' says Gordhan

The state-owned power utility "isn’t on the brink of financial collapse'' and the government has the problem ''well under control,'' Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has said.

His comments come after documents last week showed the state was forced to pay R5bn in emergency funds so that Eskom - which is battling with declining revenue, higher costs, and keeping the lights on - could meet obligations.

''We have had an extreme financial difficulty as a result of state capture - the damage that has been caused has been huge,'' Gordhan said on Talk Radio 702. He was referring to the process in which billions of rand have been looted from government coffers through the use of political connections to secure appointments of allies to key state posts and win contracts. ''We understand what changes need to be made.''

The government announced a record R69bn bailout for Eskom in February to be paid over three years. Of that, R23bn is pledged for the current financial year. Based on the 2% limit of the appropriated national budget, only R17.7bn can be transferred. The remaining balance will have to be subjected to the normal appropriation process when parliament is constituted after the May 8 election.

The R23bn required a special bill that didn’t come up before Parliament completed it business.