25 March 2019

South Africa: Maimane Calls for Parliament to Reconvene to Deal With Eskom, Plans March to Union Buildings

DA leader Mmusi Maimane is calling for Parliament to reconvene urgently to deal with the crisis at Eskom.

Maimane held a press briefing on Monday at the party's head office in Johannesburg, to announce that he had written to National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete asking for Parliament to remain in session. Parliament has currently risen to allow for parties to campaign for the upcoming general elections on May 8. Coupled with this request, Maimane said the party would hold a march on Friday to the Union Buildings to highlight the energy crisis.

"The National Assembly, which held its last sitting last week Wednesday, is still able to do the people's work until May 7, the day before the national elections. Therefore, the Speaker must simply recall a sitting of the National Assembly to deal with this national crisis," he said. The party is also proposing that an ad hoc committee be formed to address the impending national power crisis. He proposes Parliament immediately pass the Independent System and Market Operator Bill (Ismo Bill), which "seeks to break up Eskom into separate generation and supply entities so that energy is cheaper and more secure for the people of South Africa".Parliament would also, among other objectives, inquire into the circumstances surrounding the potentially imminent threat of the collapse of the national energy grid, together with experts and stakeholder input, he said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the unbundling of the power utility into three entities during his state of the nation address earlier this year.During Human Rights Day in Sharpeville, Ramaphosa said the country would "overcome" the energy crisis if South Africans "close rank and join hands".

To mitigate the recent wave of power cuts and possible crash of Eskom, the president appointed his deputy, David Mabuza, to head a Cabinet task team to come up with solutions. The DA believes the appointment of Mabuza demonstrates a lack of seriousness to deal with the problem from Ramaphosa. "In addition to this, I will today write to Mabuza, requesting an urgent meeting with him in order to establish the plans the Presidency and the special Cabinet committee have in place to deal with this crisis. The lack of transparency from national government is not helping the situation. We need national government to play open cards with the people of South Africa."

Maimane told journalists that Eskom must be partially privatised and unbundled into two entities. He said its generation entities should be privatised to diversify what energy enters the grid while increasing competition and lowering costs.He added that Parliament should instruct Eskom to freeze the last two units at Kusile's build immediately, and rather look to independent power producers (IPPs) for power.

"Commit Eskom's maintenance and engineering employees as an essential service that cannot strike, install smart meters for municipalities to collect revenue on time and allow metros that function well to source energy directly from independent energy suppliers," Maimane said.

"The crisis at hand leaves no time for dithering. Immediate action is now required, and it is going to take ordinary citizens to shake this ANC national government to wake up before it's too late."The party has already filled a court application in the Western Cape to challenge Eskom's exclusive rights to procure power. The DA-run City of Cape Town took the Department of Energy to court to allow for independent power producers to supply the City with electricity."The message is clear. There is a plan to fix this crisis and we need to institute this plan now. And we will mobilise next Friday to call on this ANC government to take the action required to fix this national crisis."

Source: News24

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