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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

‘Load shedding started in 1997’ – Ramokgopa says no one currently at Eskom to blame

Ramokgopa also dismissed the notion load shedding coincided with the appointment of ministers like Pravin Gordhan.

The Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, said no one currently managing Eskom should be blamed for load shedding and that the rolling blackouts started as far back as 1997.

Ramokgopa was briefing the public enterprises committee on Wednesday on the energy action plan.

This is the first time Ramokgopa briefed the committee after being appointed in March by President Cyril Ramaphosa to end the electricity crisis.

Problems at Eskom

Ramokgopa said while he was summoned to explain the current energy crisis, the committee would have been familiar with the situation in Eskom and electricity challenges facing the country.

“I am not here to define a problem statement. The problem statement is known to all of us and that problem statement is that the generation capacity primarily from a dominant player that is Eskom is not sufficient to meet the demand and also support an anchor and growth of the South African economy.

“As a result we needed to introduce a measure, a technical instrument to ensure that we protect the grid and that technical instrument is what we call load shedding,” Ramokgopa said.

ALSO READ: Eskom increases load shedding after generation unit delays

Blame game

Ramokgopa said load shedding did not start “now”.

“The suggestions that the challenges of load shedding only started now, I think, is a misrepresentation. They stretch back to 1997 and some of the choices that we have made have caught up with us.”

He also dismissed the notion the rolling blackouts coincided with the appointment of ministers like Pravin Gordhan.

“I don’t think it is appropriate to say that load shedding coincides with the appointment of certain members of the executive. It’s a challenge that’s been sitting with us for a considerable period of time.”

Energy action plan

Ramokgopa said the energy action plan (EAP) is a “comprehensive articulation” of government’s response to the energy crisis facing South Africa and was unveiled in July 2022.

“So, the suggestion that the implementation of the energy action plan starts with the appointment with the minister of electricity is not correct. That effort has been ongoing,” Ramokgopa said.

The electricity minister also tried to assure the committee that the Eskom grid would not be sold off to the private sector, saying the parastatal must invest R390 billion on its transmission infrastructure.

ALSO READ: Electricity minister Ramokgopa acting as finance minister

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