Parties slam Eskom’s ‘permanent’ load shedding plan for next 2 years
Eskom’s permanent load shedding plan rubbished as an admission of failure to solve the power crisis currently ravaging the economy.
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The probability of permanent stage 2 and 3 load shedding for the next two years announced by Eskom has been rubbished as ludicrous, unprecedented and a glaring admission of failure to solve the electricity crisis.
SA’s energy crisis
Eskom board chairperson Mpho Makwena told journalists on Sunday that the power utility sought to deliver some degree of predictability while executing its turnaround plan.
He explained that the recovery of the coal fleet will not be accomplished in the near term and that, reaching an energy availability factor (EAF) of 70%, will require at least two years.
This, Makwena said, would require permanent load shedding at stage 2 or 3 for at least two years for the critical maintenance to be done on power stations.
However, outgoing Eskom CEO Andrè de Ruyter said this was not possible as the power utility could not guarantee that the rolling blackouts would remain at the lower stages, especially during winter.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has charged that this unprecedented step by Eskom will continue to place an onerous burden on the economy and citizens.
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Kevin Mileham, the party’s spokesperson on mineral resources and energy, said South Africans were being asked to stay in the dark for four hours a day while paying extortionate electricity tariffs due to rise by 33,77% over the next 16 months.
“What is more infuriating is that the ANC government has, for the past week, been telling the country outright lies to the effect that load shedding will be a thing of the past,” he said in a statement.
Mileham said first it was Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe who said he could end load shedding in six to 12 months.
He said then it was Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana who claimed that power cuts will end in 12 to 18 months.
“Eskom has rubbished these claims and placed the country on permanent load shedding for 2 years with no guarantees after that. Architects of state capture who were responsible for the wholesale looting and subsequent collapse of Eskom, remain free while South Africans are being forced to bear the burden of permanent load shedding,” Mileham charged.
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He said the DA rejects this unrelenting punishment of ordinary citizens, saying this was precisely why the main opposition party has declared Wednesday a national day of action.
“We will be marching to Luthuli House to protest against ANC load shedding and unaffordable, unfair electricity price increases. It is time that power is given back to the people,” he added.
‘Dangerous and destructive’
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) said it was not surprised by the “dangerous and destructive consideration” by Eskom to implement stages 2 and 3 of the rolling electricity blackouts for the next two years.
The party said it has long exposed that there is no verifiable plan by the parastatal or government to put an end to the crippling blackouts.
“The announcement by Eskom of this consideration, which will undoubtedly collapse this country into poverty, food instability and economic collapse is a concession of utter incompetence.
“It is even more concerning that in the midst of useless and meaningless meetings by the so-called Energy Crisis Committee, and PR-stunts by Cyril Ramaphosa, there seems to be no coherence in communication and direction within government and the energy utility,” the EFF said in a statement.
“The EFF reiterates that the most immediate course of action at Eskom is the complete restructuring of its leadership through employing competent energy experts who have exhibited the ability to end load shedding in the past.
“This coupled with mutually beneficial relations with progressive nations on energy policy is the only sensible way forward.”
ActionSA said the announcement was not only ludicrous but also made it clear that there still was no coherent plan to get SA out of the power mess, nearly 15 years after load shedding began.
Herman Mashaba, the party’s president, said in a statement that the permanent load shedding announcement directly contradicts that of President Cyril Ramaphosa and Mantashe.
Mashaba said the president and Mantashe were either oblivious to the truth or have blatantly lied to the nation.
“Either way, they clearly have no grip on this crisis and no plan to address it, a large contributor to his rejection of lower-cost renewables that would be quicker to market.
“Since Mantashe took over the Energy Department nearly four years ago, not a single publicly procured megawatt has been added to the grid. This is unforgivable,” he said.
‘Time to dump Mantashe’
Mashaba called on Ramaphosa to put his personal and political affiliations aside and dump Mantashe as energy minister without delay.
He said Mantashe must be replaced with a fit and proper person who appreciates that SA is running out of time to fix the mess.
“The incongruity between the propaganda spread by the President and Minister Mantashe demonstrates the level of chaos in which our energy sector finds itself at the hands of dishonest and politically expedient ANC cadres,” Mashaba said.
He said that ActionSA will also be consulting with its senior legal team to explore avenues to hold government to account for the promises it makes.
“It cannot be that a government can make promises that affect millions of people and there be no consequences for when they do not meet these deadlines or blatantly mislead the nation,” he added.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe