Ramaphosa calls special meeting over load shedding as South Africans demand answers

 ·20 Jan 2023

President Cyril Ramaphosa is convening a special meeting with the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) on Friday to address the ongoing energy crisis in South Africa.

The country has been experiencing non-stop load shedding since the start of the year, with rolling blackouts pushed as high as stage 6 for nearly a full week. Load shedding is currently on a rotation of stage 4 during the day and stage 5 in the evenings.

Power utility Eskom initially planned to deliver a state of the system update earlier in the week, but this was called off as executives were pulled into urgent meetings with the government. There has been no update since.

South Africa’s National Energy Crisis Committee, a body run by Ramaphosa’s office, said that a range of interventions have been made to mitigate the energy crisis – including new laws to speed up the approval and development of power plants – but no details or timelines have been delivered.

Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said that Eskom was in the process of finalising its plans to take further urgent steps to stabilise the power station’s performance and reliability, but provided no details or timelines.

Meanwhile, frustration over the crisis has been growing across all sectors of society as households, businesses and entire industries have been left crippled in the dark for up to 12 hours a day.

Western Cape premier Alan Winde on Thursday called for Ramaphosa to tell South Africa what he was doing to resolve the issue.

“Given the catastrophic impact this crisis has had on the economy and that it infringes on the fundamental rights of our citizens, we desperately need a tangible national plan that delivers urgent action,” he said

“All South Africans want to see this crisis resolved. Myself and my government are ready to work with all spheres of government, the private sector, and civil society to support national government in acting with urgency for all of us.”

Winde has threatened to declare an intergovernmental dispute over load shedding.

“We must see urgency emerge from this PCC, which has been sorely lacking for too long, while citizens are left feeling abandoned and hopeless. It is inexcusable that when facing a crisis of this magnitude, we are left with morsels and rumours, but nothing concrete.”

Winde said the real GDP lost to the province due to load shedding was estimated at R8.2 billion. The economic damage is expected to grow significantly not only in the Western Cape but across the country unless decisive and urgent interventions implemented at a national level, he said.

Speaking to EWN, the public enterprises oversight committee said that the current high levels of load shedding are inexcusable and said Eskom needs to do something to bring the levels of load shedding down to at least stage 1 or stage 2.

The committee also wants a detailed briefing from Eskom about what’s going on and what it plans to do about it.

Eskom, meanwhile, is facing legal challenges from political parties and various industries over the damage being caused by persistent outages. Leader of Build On South Africa, Mmusi Maimane has become the latest to join legal proceedings against the state power utility and the government over load shedding.

Read: Eskom ‘finalising urgent plans’ to cut load shedding: minister

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