‘What’s meant by embarrassment?’ – Ramokgopa defends Ramaphosa’s Sona remarks and load shedding ‘coincidence’
South Africa has experienced higher stages of load shedding since the State of the Nation Address on Thursday.
Minister in the Presidency responsible for electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. Photo: GCIS
Ramokgopa held a media briefing on Sunday, accompanied by Eskom’s head of generation Bheki Nxumalo.
The minister assured South Africans that the generating units are expected to stabilise by Wednesday after boiler tube leak issues.
“[At least] 4 400 megawatts were taken out due to boiler tube leaks on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Essentially we had nine units contributing the 400 400 and these are big units. Each one is contributing over 600 MW.
“Of these nine units, two have come back. We will see a significant reduction in load-shedding stages by Wednesday,” Ramokgopa said.
He added that Eskom management was working directly with boiler tube equipment manufacturers to deal with this, thus, “cutting off the middleman.”
Barely a day after President Cyril Ramaphosa told the country that the “worst of load shedding is behind us” during the State of the Nation Address (Sona), Eskom ramped up the power cuts to stage 6 from midnight on Friday.
The last time the country experienced Stage 6 was in November last year.
However, Ramokgopa stressed that the president wasn’t lying in his assurances, adding that Eskom’s maintenance strategy at its power station was to blame.
“I really don’t understand what is meant by embarrassment. It is just a coincidence that immediately after the [delivery of Sona] then the risk materialises.
“I made a point that the inherent risk in this strategy is exactly that… the risk materialising and the intensification of load shedding. But the returns will be seen over a period time that’s the point I am making,” he said.
Watch the briefing below:
“We’ve taken calculated risks. I said before that we won’t cut corners in our efforts to reduce load shedding.
“What is crucial is to do things the right way and ensure we regain the megawatts we lost over time.
“It’s the price we pay to fix the grid, we need to be very meticulous and accept that there are going to be setbacks, and from yesterday, we saw those setbacks,” Ramokgopa continued.
Additionally, the minister said, the expected power injection from green sources has not been enough due to changing climate conditions.
African National Congress (ANC) secretary-general Fikile Mbalula took to social media on Saturday, claiming sabotage for the sudden Stage 6.
He even suggested additional security measures at power plants.
But Ramokgopa would not be drawn into Mbalula’s speculations.
The minister pointed out that the majority of Eskom employees were competent, hardworking and dedicated to ending load-shedding.
“I have full confidence in Nxumalo and the team, CEO and the board. But I don’t discount that there might be elements that would want to undermine the efforts we are making.
“I leave that to management, if that would require an investigation, Nxumalo will do that, I won’t enter that terrain of management.
“Until they come to us and say they need help with an investigation, I am not at a point where I can make such statements,” Ramokgopa said.
According to the minister, Eskom management is probing two incidents. He did not clarify what the investigations were about.
“We can pronounce on that once that investigation is completed,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ramokgopa further defended Ramaphosa, saying the president was referring to the downward trajectory of load shedding as opposed to a single event when he made his Sona remarks.
“It is coming down. This is on account of power generating units returning [online], as we said it would. It is coming down and that is why we say it is in reach. The end of load shedding is within reach… That is the point the president was making,” he concluded.
Eskom announced a reduction of load shedding by just one stage to 5 shortly after the briefing.