In this virtual meeting, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, considered and adopted the report on its oversight visit to ESKOM and its infrastructure projects of Medupi and Kusile, from 20 to 22 April 2022. The Committee added revisions regarding the importance of consequence management and provided clarity on permissible emission levels at Kusile that have had the consequence of lower energy output. The Committee noted that Flue-Gas Desulfurization (FDG) technology is new to South Africa.
The Committee added that a complaint has been filed with the Speaker, of which a decision is pending as to whether the matter will serve before the Powers and Privileges Committee.
The Chairperson greeted and welcomed everyone. He explained that this meeting will deal with the ESKOM report following the Committee’s oversight visit. The report has been circulated to the Committee prior to the meeting and the outstanding information from ESKOM has been included. The Committee will go through the report page by page and thereafter consider its adoption.
The Committee Secretary took the Committee through the report.
Ms B Van Minnen (DA) referred to the top of page three, and suggested an addition: ‘after resulting in massive damage and exorbitant costs and a reduction in generation capacity, which will take some time to restore’.
Mr A Lees (DA) asked that a date also be included in the sentence as he suspects that ESKOM will not adhere to the date that was provided.
The Committee Secretary confirmed that the date provided was August 2024.
Ms Van Minnen referred to the history of engagement on page four and recalled at least one of the meetings was postponed. It was important to show that the history of engagement has not been entirely smooth sailing.
The Committee Secretary noted that there was one meeting that was suspended and reconvened in the evening and one meeting where documentation arrived late.
Ms Van Minnen asked that at paragraph 3.4, finding the cause of the explosion at Unit four in Medupi, there be added ‘and to monitor consequence management’. In paragraph 4.1.1, ESKOM only started the preservation of that generator a couple of months after the explosion, so would it not be appropriate to add something regarding preservation? She suggested that ‘the Committee wishes to emphasise the importance of this process (consequence management) as well as following up with the preservation of the components of generator four which are needed to get it running again’ be added.
Mr Lees rephrased it to state, ‘the Committee wishes to emphasise the importance of ensuring that the components of Unit four, required to get the Unit running again, are kept in safe keeping’.
Ms Van Minnen said paragraphs 4.1.2 and 4.1.3 needed elaboration.
The Chairperson added to paragraph 4.1.4, ‘the stockpile is expected to rise to 14 million tons by the end of 2022’.
Ms Van Minnen said paragraph 4.2 needs to expand on the agreements involved and the history of the transaction as this will be an ongoing issue.
The Chairperson noted at 4.2.5, the deadline was originally 2023 and it has now been moved to 2024.
Ms Van Minnen asked that at 4.2.6, it should be made clear that monitoring was not an issue from the Committee’s side. It should be amended to ‘it appears that there has been less rigorous monitoring of construction by ESKOM at Kusile than was the case at Medupi’.
The Chairperson added that this has led to a leadership changes and extensive corporate restructuring.
Ms Van Minnen added at the end of point 4, ‘Flue-Gas Desulfurization (FDG) technology, which is new to South Africa, does not always operate optimally, resulting in the need to reduce generation, leading to reduction and availability of electricity’. Regarding 5.1, she asked that the details of the number of the cases open with South African Police Service (SAPS) be checked as there was a frustration with the number of cases being dealt with.
The Chairperson confirmed that only 12 cases have shown some sort of movement. It should be added that ‘there were 3812 employees doing business with ESKOM.’
Ms Van Minnen asked that point 5 elaborates on the Sulphur levels being too high, which meant that the coal could not be used at other plants. On 5.16 add that ‘permissible emission levels at Kusile are low due to legislation. Once these levels are reached, generation must be reduced’.
Ms N Tolashe (ANC) stated that every time the original equipment manufacturer is called upon to do repairs, there must be some form of skills transfer.
Ms Van Minnen said that recommendations need to be made regarding the municipal debt. As a committee, the importance of coordinating all the role-players were discussed. It should be added that ‘the relevant stakeholders should work together to settle the debt owed to ESKOM’.
The Chairperson said that the report must reflect on the interaction with the board members. A complaint has been sent to the Speaker, pending a decision on whether it will serve before the Powers and Privileges Committee
Ms Tolashe was added to the attendance list.
The Chairperson moved to adopt the report.
Ms A Beukes (ANC) seconded the adoption.
The Committee Secretary said that the report will be tidied up and sent to the members before being published in the Announcements, Tailings and Committee Reports (ATC).
The meeting was adjourned.
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