Not long after Eskom told fund managers in London that the troubled power utility planned to ask National Treasury to assume R100bn of its debt, the country’s new Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tweeted a picture of a sieve.
The tweet, two days later, may have been a simpler response than what Treasury itself said about the plan, which fund managers said Eskom hadn’t yet communicated to the government. The department said it hadn’t received a proposal from Eskom and that government policy for the funding of state companies was that any measures should be "deficit neutral".
Mboweni’s picture and comments echo those he made to Bloomberg TV a few days earlier when he urged Eskom to return to the bond market to raise the money it needs.
"The fiscus is not in a position to continue pouring money into assets which are not productive," he said in the interview on December 1 in Buenos Aires after commenting about Eskom and South African Airways.
"This is like pouring water into a sieve and hoping that it is going to fill up."
This is an image of a sieve. pic.twitter.com/gqimAPvLQQ— Tito Mboweni (@tito_mboweni) December 7, 2018
Eskom has said it won’t comment on its turnaround plan. Jabulani Sikhakhane, spokesperson for the Treasury, didn’t immediately respond to a text message seeking comment on the tweet.