It is only the second week of the New Year and Eskom has asked the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) to burden electricity consumers with a 45% increase spread over three years.

Public hearings on Eskom’s demand for a 15% electricity tariff increase, every year over the next three years has irked advocacy, humanitarian and other groups. Energy expert, Ted Blom, said Eskom’s application should be scrapped following disclosures that the utility had been allegedly captured by the Gupta brothers who are on the run and their cohorts in South Africa

It emerged in the State Capture Enquiry, run in Parliament that billions of rands apparently landed in the hands of unscrupulous individuals. The Gupta brothers refused to come back to South Africa to take an oath in Parliament and to provide their versions. ” As we now enter 2019, Eskom is rudderless. The Eskom board has proved to be dysfunctional and required ministerial intervention on several occasions. Although appointed 12 months ago, they were unable to carve out a credible turnaround plan despite the use of expensive outside consultants,” said Blom.

Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa intervened in the crisis at Eskom by appointing a team of eight to steer the board in the right direction by 31 January. “The many futile interventions point to an unsalvageable and bankrupt Eskom. In fact, the pillaging is still continuing, this time by another third force which has replaced the Zupta gang. Questions remain as to why no one has been prosecuted and no monetary recovery has occurred,” Blom said.

The energy regulator said that it would assess Eskom’s applications following due regulatory processes. Eskom said that it continued to implement a short-to-medium-term nine-point recovery programme that would see steady and sustained improvement in plant performance and coal stock levels. It added that steady progress was made with regard to fixing coal stockpiles as 35 new coal contracts were concluded last year. It also said the probability of load shedding remained low until 13 January.

Stop CoCT founder, Sandra Dickson, is among those outraged by Eskom’s plan for a big increase in electricity. “It is the worst decision to hold public hearings so early in January. We also need to state that consumers cannot pay these exorbitant increases. The majority of people are struggling to make ends meet. Eskom should get an increase but nothing above the inflation rate,” she said.