The mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, addressed the business community on Thursday, saying that Eskom could not be allowed to ask South Africans to continue to subsidize the corruption that was hounding the energy company.
The National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) is hearing on Eskom's proposal for a 15% increase in the electricity tariff. Although several sectors of society have signaled that the high tariff would be inaccessible, Eskom said that the financial situation of the entity forced its hand.
Arguing for a 15% tariff increase earlier this month, Eskom CEO Phakamani Hadebe told Nersa that Eskom's balance sheet deteriorated over time to the point where debt, which was at $ 380 billion at the beginning of 2018, rose to more than $ 419 billion.
Mashaba will use inputs from Thursday's meeting to inform the city's submission to Nersa while regulator hearings continue on Friday.
Mashaba told business leaders in Johannesburg that a rate increase would be more justifiable if Eskom proved it would stop losing money to corruption.
"Eskom's problem is because of corruption.If you want to fix Eskom, why do not you start by ensuring that those who stole from the entity face the legal consequences before going to the society to ask for money?" Eskom is basically asking us to give they more money to steal, "said Mashaba.
A visibly annoying Mashaba told business leaders that there has been no arrest, trial or conviction of anyone who has sacked Eskom.
"We have Eskom to demonstrate to us that those who stole from Eskom are being punished, they have destroyed the organization of the grid and we must continue to fund it, we have the Asset Confiscation Unit, we need to demonstrate that there are consequences for these things, Mashaba said.
Mashaba said the appointment of Eskom's board by President Cyril Ramaphosa was welcome, but that the president must have known of Eskom's problems for a long time, since he was the leader of the government during his years as vice president.
Mashaba said that the appointment of a team to help Eskom undermined the board that Ramaphosa appointed for the parastatals months earlier in the first place.