Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

‘It’s an assumption’: Duarte clarifies ANC’s claims of sabotage at Eskom

Duarte was quizzed on the ANC's claims of sabotage at Eskom to disrupt the local government elections.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte says the governing party’s claim on Wednesday, that the latest bout of load shedding may be due to sabotage by some individuals within Eskom, is based on conjecture.

“It is an assumption that we are making because nobody is giving us clear answers…unless we get answers, we are going to be like the rest of the public and we are going to say these are acts of sabotage,” Duarte said in an interview with Newzroom Afrika on Wednesday evening.

Duarte was quizzed on the ANC’s claims of sabotage at Eskom to disrupt the elections, after the party issued a statement bemoaning the state of load shedding ahead of the local government elections on Monday.

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The party demanded “unequivocal answers” from Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom’s CEO André de Ruyter, after the utility ramped up rolling power cuts from stage 2 to stage 4.

The party said the power outages were negatively affecting its election campaign and claimed that this “may be the deliberate actions of some within Eskom for political ends”.

‘Huge conspiracy’

Duarte said the ANC was raising concerns about the inconsistencies from Eskom in providing accurate and timely information to the public on the country’s electricity supply.

She said the ANC did not know about a “huge conspiracy” to disrupt the local elections, but they believed that there was something wrong with Eskom’s management.

“We are saying it is sabotage and we are saying to the Eskom management ‘please get your house in order’, please be accountable [and] explain.

“Don’t send an alert at 11.30 this morning [Wednesday] and inform the public that from 12pm onwards there will be stage 4 load shedding. That sends a completely mystifying message [and] you ask yourself what’s happening,” Duarte said.

She added: “I think I would like to rest it there and say that I cannot say that there is a huge conspiracy, I don’t know. What I do believe… we are saying that there is a problem within the Eskom management and its structures.”

Gordhan’s media briefing

Duarte also denied that the abrupt media briefing held by Gordhan and Eskom’s management on Wednesday evening was due to the ANC’s complaints about load shedding.

She said the governing party welcomed Gordhan’s announcement that load shedding would be downgraded to lower levels for the rest of the week, and that there would be no power cuts on voting day.

However, Duarte dismissed claims that the ANC was complaining because of the polls. She said such inferences are “insulting to the ANC”.

“If there is load shedding on 1 November, every South African would suffer. So it’s not us wanting to look good in the eyes of people.

“But we are raising this matter because we are concerned. And I think our right to be concerned cannot be seen as a sinister ploy to try to look good in the eyes of people to get votes.

“If there is load shedding on Monday, there will be no election and our responsibility as a governing party must be to ensure that there will be no load shedding.”

Does the ANC have confidence in Eskom’s leadership?

Duarte said the ANC’s statement on Wednesday should not be seen as the party expressing a lack of confidence in De Ruyter or Gordhan’s ability to deal with load shedding.

“Minister Gordhan does account and I think I want to be very clear about that. We are not saying there is something wrong with André de Ruyter, I don’t want to go there.

“What we are saying is that there must be collective responsibility by the management of Eskom for the conditions that Eskom finds itself in now.

“It’s been a while since Mr De Ruyter has been at the helm of Eskom and surely by now understanding the problem means that you must have solutions. What we don’t know is what those solutions are,” she said.

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