South Africa: President Vows to Keep the Lights On This Christmas

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(file photo).
11 December 2019

President Cyril Ramaphosa has assured South Africans that power utility Eskom will keep the lights on this Christmas.

"Eskom has given an assurance that from the 17th December 2019 to 13 January 2020 we should not be in a position to have any form of load shedding," the President said.

This as the President met with the Board and Management of Eskom on Wednesday where he was briefed on plans to mitigate and resolve the current electricity crisis affecting the country.

President Ramaphosa also established that there was an act of sabotage that saw the already constrained system shed 2000 megawatts.

"There was also an act of sabotage where someone in the Eskom system disconnected one of the instruments which led to one of the boilers tripping," said President Ramaphosa.

An investigation into the acts of sabotage is underway.

"I have directed that the sabotage acts must be investigated and they [Eskom] must work with the South African Police Services and intelligence.

"We want security increased so that no one ever gets the opportunity to engage in acts of sabotage," said the President.

Other challenges cited by the President that led to the load shedding include aged infrastructure, cable theft compounded by the week long rains that engulfed parts of the country.

The President's visit to Eskom headquarters - Megawatt Park comes as the country enters day seven of load shedding.

In a first for the country, the utility surpassed the Stage 4 mark and implemented Stage 6 load shedding on Monday.

In a bid to mitigate the strain on the utility, the President instructed that all leave for executives and managers was cancelled, to allow the top brass of Eskom to adequately deal with the challenges.

Additionally, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe will work with Eskom management to facilitate the emergency recovery plan.

Meanwhile, the President said government is working to ensure that Medupe and Kusile come on stream next year with the first unit from Kusile set to come on the grid by June 2020.

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