With the country facing rolling blackouts a mere four days before South Africans vote in this year’s local government elections, the ANC on Wednesday demanded “unequivocal answers” from Eskom on the current state of the country’s power supply.
The governing party said it noted, “with a sense of grave concern”, Eskom’s decision to ramp up load shedding from stage 2 to stage 4 . The ANC also questioned whether load shedding was being deliberately implemented by Eskom for political ends.
ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said the latest bout of load shedding was despite a commitment made by Eskom’s CEO André de Ruyter in mid-October to contain the power outages and ease disruptions to SA’s power supply.
“The ANC is further concerned that the announcement made by Eskom coincides with the first day of final examinations for thousands of matriculants across the country who must have the opportunity to study and write their exams uninterrupted by power outages,” Mabe said in a statement.
‘Deliberate actions for political ends’
Even though Eskom’s executives on Monday gave an update on the state of the power system, the ANC said there were inconsistencies in information and assurances given by the power utility on the electricity supply.
The party said it was quite concerned that load shedding “may be the deliberate actions of some within Eskom for political ends”.
“To this extent, the ANC demands unequivocal answers on the current state of power supply,” Mabe said.
“The mixed messages and lack of public transparency and accountability witnessed are a source of grave concern and suspicion.”
The ANC added that the rolling power cuts were “a direct affront” to its commitment in their election manifesto to ensure a safe and reliable electricity supply to South Africans.
It said Eskom’s inconsistency in messaging and failure to take the nation into its confidence on the state of the grid must be condemned because load shedding had caused “anxiety and disruption” to citizens’ lives.
“For this is to be achieved, the ANC calls for leadership and transparency in explaining to South Africans the state of power supply and in order to make an honest assessment on whether the right skills and leadership are at our disposal at the utility under the current circumstances.”
Stage 4 load shedding
In a statement on Wednesday morning, Eskom said it was implementing stage 4 load shedding from 12pm until 5am on Friday due to a further shortage of generation capacity.
The utility’s spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha said stage 2 load shedding would continue as previously
communicated until 5pm on Saturday.
“Over the past 24 hours, a unit each at the Medupi, Kusile and Matla power stations tripped while a unit each at Lethabo and Arnot power stations were [sic] forced to shut down.
“This constrained the power system further, requiring extensive use of emergency reserves and therefore, hampering the recovery of these reserves,” Mantshantsha said.
The power utility said total breakdowns currently amounted to 14,957MW while planned maintenance is 5,301MW of capacity.
It said some of its generating units had returned to service and it anticipated another two units to return to service during the day on Wednesday.
“In addition, Koeberg unit 1 is expected to return to service today [Wednesday] and begin ramping up to full output within 48 hours.”
Eskom apologised for the inconvenience caused by the implementation of load shedding, saying stage 4 power cuts were no cause for alarm as the power system remained under control.