6 March 2014

South Africa: DA Requests Urgent Debate of Public Importance On Eskom Power Crisis

Photo: Eskom
Kendal power station, Eskom South Africa

press release

The DA will this morning write to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Max Sisulu, to request that he urgently grant a debate of public importance on the Eskom power crisis and confirmed load shedding.

The Speaker is empowered through rule 104 of the rules of the National Assembly to place such an urgent debate on the order paper so that members of Parliament can address the issue immediately.

There is no doubt that this latest development warrants such action. Eskom has this morning admitted to a national power emergency following heavy rains that left coal stockpiles wet. Eskom has now had to implement a schedule of rolling blackouts for the first time since 2008.

This load shedding will have a major impact on our economy and will inevitably result in job losses. With our economy already moving along so slowly, and facing many internal and external pressures, this announcement should be treated as a national crisis.

South Africans deserve answers for why we are again at this point. It is unacceptable that six years after the last energy crisis, Eskom has still not managed to adequately increase its capacity to deal with such challenges.

At the heart of the problem are construction delays at the Medupi power station. The project has limped from delay to delay and is running significantly over budget.

The DA has taken every step possible to try and ensure that all those responsible for this, including the ANC-linked Hitatchi Africa, are held to account. But we have been blocked at almost every turn.

The blame for this must be placed at the door of Zuma's ANC. They are more concerned with making money off of our energy woes than with fixing it. As a result, they have put us back in almost exactly the same situation we were in six years ago. This is shameful and unforgivable.

Indeed, instead of making sure that there is competition in the energy market that would allow for a stable supply of electricity, the ANC has continuously blocked the important ISMO Bill that would achieve just this.

The DA will not stop ensuring that there is accountability for this latest crisis.

The first step must now be to ensure that the members of Parliament are provided an opportunity to debate the matter immediately and consider a way forward.

I trust that the Speaker will acknowledge this necessity.

Natasha Michael, Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises

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