The EFF can claim slightly more of the credit for the past week's slight load shedding reprieve, which saw South Africa go through most of the impromptu long weekend without having to endure any power cuts. Though one of the party's aims with their national shutdown was to "stop load shedding", this does not, however, mean they achieved their goal in miraculously getting Eskom to find a way to keep the lights on. Nor does it mean they intimidated government into suspending load shedding for the period. Malema claims some of the credit Commenting on the reprieve at a media…
The EFF can claim slightly more of the credit for the past week’s slight load shedding reprieve, which saw South Africa go through most of the impromptu long weekend without having to endure any power cuts.
Though one of the party’s aims with their national shutdown was to “stop load shedding”, this does not, however, mean they achieved their goal in miraculously getting Eskom to find a way to keep the lights on.
Nor does it mean they intimidated government into suspending load shedding for the period.
Malema claims some of the credit
Commenting on the reprieve at a media briefing in Johannesburg, leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema said the issue of load shedding was used to demobilise people from joining the shutdown his party led on Monday.
“At some point, I was worried that this move could have the potential to collapse the national power grid. This situation also showed that it is possible to keep the lights on and it was possible because the biggest consumers of electricity decided to close,” Malema said.
Watch him address the media below:
Rather than the EFF having magicked up the halted load shedding, it is a simple case of their shutdown adding another day to a weekend of already reduced power consumption, along with the addition of several repaired power station units back to the grid.
This led to load shedding remaining suspended between Sunday and Tuesday.
ALSO READ: National shutdown: Eskom suspends load shedding for entire day
Energy expert Chris Yelland told The Citizen that while the load shedding reprieve of the past long weekend is greatly welcomed, the most important question is to ask why the blackouts-free days were achieved.
“Firstly, Eskom did announce sometime last week that they had been experiencing good performances from six of their power stations with great availability rates.
“Secondly, the demand for electricity over the long weekend was lower than usual and with the civil action that took place on Monday, where a lot of businesses decided to treat the day as a Public Holiday,” explained Yelland.
Yelland stressed it was wrong to attribute the reprieve of load shedding to the new Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
Ramokgopa has been visiting various power stations over the last couple of days in a bid to establish the depth of the challenges.
Watch Ramokgopa at Tutuka Power station:
“A new minister responsible for Eskom can’t just walk into Eskom and things start improving, just because he snapped his fingers. Improvements in Eskom can happen when work has been done over some time, and load shedding will not just stop overnight,” Yelland said.
Ramokgopa’s corruption remarks at Eskom
Ramokgopa has also come under fire for allegedly claiming it is not corruption but technical issues which are causing the problems at the power utility.
“Nobody must expect corruption to be staring the minister in the face the minute he walks into a power station.
“Of course, there are technical issues – boiler problems and execution issues. I mean we have one of six generating units operating at Kusile Power Station and corruption has also played a role in the issues experienced at our power stations. Some Eskom executives have already been charged and arrested due to cost overruns, mismanagement and money laundering among other, so corruption is a problem,” Yelland said.
Also Read: Eskom employee arrested for fraud involving millions
Difficulties in tackling corruption at Eskom
He said the arrests that have been made so far are just the tip of the iceberg, stressing that it is difficult to uncover corruption.
“The police don’t have resources to investigate corruption when Eskom has been complaining that they did report these matters to the police.
“For the minister to say it’s not corruption is disingenuous, and his sudden change in messaging is rather disturbing,” Yelland added.
Two more suspects have been arrested and appeared alongside Thandeka Innocentia Nkosi, an Eskom Matla Power Station employee, who was arrested on charges of fraud related to more than R14 million siphoned from the money coffers of the embattled power supplier.
ALSO READ: Two more arrested in R14 million Eskom fraud sting, one on the run
Another energy and political analyst Tshepo Kgadima warned that this simplistic abracadabra approach, along with Ramokgopa’s refusal to face the reality of the situation, would plunge the country into total darkness and a perpetual state of arrested economic development.
“The fact is Eskom loses R80 billion per year in corruption and by the time the so-called minister of electricity comes to grips with the elementary aspects of energy and electricity or a megawatt and a megawatt hour, the country’s electricity grid will have collapsed and the country of South Africa will become another doomed sad African Republic.
“Ramokgopa’s public utterances and unlawful interference indicate that the government has lost confidence in the board of directors of Eskom, hence the unlawful usurpation of power and authority of the board and it’s an antithesis to good corporate governance and a proverbial albatross which is surely going to sink the energy titan – Eskom.”
The Democratic Alliance (DA) condemned what it termed as ‘flimsy’ remarks attributed to Ramokgopa, saying he appeared to be brushing away legitimate concerns about corruption at Kusile.
“Ramokgopa’s comments are not only reckless, they expose his real agenda which is to sanitice ANC corruption and absolve the criminal networks operating at Eskom from any responsibility.
“Ramokgopa must immediately retract his comments and explain how he plans to work with law enforcement agencies to root out corruption at Eskom, which is at the heart of much of the operational challenges that the entity is currently facing,” the DA’s shadow minister of Public Enterprises Ghaleb Cachalia said.