Load shedding has apparently “vanished into thin air” with Eskom being promised a R69 billion bailout – a lifeline that will increase state debt and debt-servicing costs – according to United Democratic Movement (UDM) leader Bantu Holomisa.
He has accused the power utility of using load shedding as a form of “blackmail” to ensure they got their bailout.
In the first week of February, the utility announced Stage 4 load shedding, meaning 4,000MW was shed on one day, which was almost double what electricity consumers normally have to endure.
Eskom explained the move by saying they had unexpectedly lost an additional six generating units. In November, the indebted utility announced that the severest form of load shedding would now be Stage 8.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that Eskom would be given a lifeline during his budget speech on Wednesday.
The R69 billion bailout would be spread over three fiscal years ending in March 2022. In an attempt to partially offset the Eskom bailout and limit the amount of extra debt, Mboweni announced that money would be reprioritised over the next three fiscal years, with 54% of the cuts coming from compensation budget adjustments.
The bailout is expected to boost government debt, stabilising gross debt at 60.2% of GDP in the 2024 fiscal year.
Holomisa appears to view the bailout handed to Eskom as a pacifier following weeks of “political blackmail”. In a tweet, he said: “Now that they got the bailout money, load shedding has vanished into thin air,” and questioned if load shedding had merely been a ploy by the ANC government to get money for the election.
“Banana Republic jungle administration.”
Eskom’s politics of blackmail have paid . Now that they got the bail out money, load shedding has vanished into thin air. Banana Republic jungle administration. Or was it a ruse to get money for election as they did to #Bosasa ANCSiyayinqoba Rallies .
— Bantu Holomisa (@BantuHolomisa) February 21, 2019