South Africa: Government 'Fumbling in the Dark' for Solutions to Eskom Crisis - DA

(file photo).

A media briefing on Eskom has only confirmed that the power utility is on the verge of collapse and that this will have a devastating impact on the country, the DA said on Tuesday.

The party's spokesperson on public enterprises MP Natasha Mazzone said President Cyril Ramaphosa, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza were "not only culpable, but they have run out of ideas on how to address the extent of the crisis".

She said the briefing was nothing more than a "talk shop".

"They are quite literally fumbling in the dark for solutions."

In a briefing in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Gordhan and Mabuza tried to allay fears about future electricity supply.

They acknowledged the disruptions that had been experienced by the nation and promised to communicate better with citizens.

'A once globally recognised power utility'

This followed five consecutive days of load shedding, including power cuts at night.

Fin24 reported that Eskom and government had started planning for stage 5 and stage 6 load shedding, according to officials who said that there was a race against time to ensure that a national blackout and grid collapse did not happen.

Mazzone said continued blackouts would lead to job shedding and no investors would touch the country.

"Very soon rolling blackouts will impact the provision of water and many other basic services. This is indeed a national crisis."

The DA's solutions to the power crisis included: privatising the generation entities of Eskom; instructing Eskom to freeze the outstanding units at Kusile and instead look at bringing on more independent power producers; and reaffirming Eskom's engineering and maintenance staff as essential service workers who cannot go on strike.

The ACDP's Steve Swart said the party was "angered at the state of this once globally recognised power utility".

"Our members are fed up and angered at the rolling blackouts that are affecting every aspect of their lives. In their view it was foreseeable and could have been avoided. We believe that the ANC-led government must be held accountable for the shocking state of Eskom," he told News24.

"The party has aided and abetted state capture and corruption at Eskom as is evident from the parliamentary inquiry and Zondo commission. It must be held accountable."

Call for collection of debts owed to Eskom

Swart said Eskom required a new business model to address the crisis it finds itself in.

Greater focus should also be placed on collecting outstanding municipal debt owed to Eskom running into billions of rands, he added.

"There doesn't seem to be political will to collect this debt, which aggravates the financial crisis Eskom finds itself in. The ACDP also believes that all those implicated in state capture and corruption, including Cabinet ministers and members of the Eskom board and management, must be held accountable, both criminally and civilly."

IFP chief whip in Parliament and spokesperson on public enterprises Narend Singh said the party was not satisfied with Tuesday's update.

"We are in serious crisis mode. Interventions seem to be too little, too late. We have no choice but to support planned proposals. The patience of South Africans is wearing thin and this speaks to the ability or lack thereof of Eskom and the ANC to govern the country and SOEs (state-owned enterprises)," he said.

Singh said he believed there should not just be one supplier of electricity in South Africa.

"Firstly, we need to break the monopoly of Eskom, open up the market for competition and encourage other players to provide electricity. This will improve service significantly and bring down costs. We need to look into alternative energy sources such as solar and nuclear to decrease dependency."

Source: News24

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