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Last month, Eskom assured the public and the Democratic Alliance (DA) that there would be no planned rolling blackouts for the months of September and October following the DA’s revelations that the utility had warned municipalities of the possibility of imminent rolling blackouts. Clearly Eskom’s words rang hollow as South Africans awoke to the news this morning that the power utility will be implementing Stage 2 rolling blackouts due to a “shortage of capacity”.
The re-occurrence of rolling blackouts come as no surprise to the DA as we have long held the view that Eskom’s turnaround strategies and recovery plans have amounted to nothing. It would seem as though the embattled utility was more concerned about funding Eskom’s deteriorating operations than the actual job of making it a profitable, efficient and stable energy producer.
Eskom has dragged Nersa to court to challenge its decision in March which allowed for tariff increases below what Eskom had applied for. In addition to this, the utility will also be expecting a substantial bailout in Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni’s upcoming medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS).
The DA warns Eskom against using rolling blackouts as a bargaining tool for more money.
Eskom has become an empty shell that is completely incapable of delivering in its mandate to deliver reliable and sustained provision of electricity. They simply cannot keep the lights on. These rolling blackouts will most certainly have serious consequences for our struggling economy. Experts estimate that each stage of rolling blackouts, costs the country R1 billion per stage, per day.
When we do not have electricity, we do not have productivity. And when we do not have productivity, we have stagnation which ultimately leads to unemployment.
Another area of concern is the impact of these rolling blackouts on the matric exams. The DA has been receiving concerned calls from principals and teachers across the country, regarding the impact of rolling blackouts on today’s Computer Applications practical exam.
Eskom’s monopoly on the production of energy needs to be broken as it hampers economic growth and education. However, the ANC government would rather see the country plunge into darkness than to put its pride aside to bring on board Independent Power Producers to stabilise and diversify the grid.
Government, on several occasions, gave assurances that the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) would be released in September, it now mid-October, and the IRP, which is the blueprint for the generation of new energy, is nothing more than a pipe dream.
The ANC does not have a vision for Eskom past their own narrow political interests – that is why Eskom will continue to fail. The DA on the other hand has a plan to stabilise and secure South Africa’s power supply and that is contained in our Cheaper Energy Bill, which seeks to break Eskom into two separate entities – a generation and distribution entity.
The DA will in the coming days take our plan to fix Eskom to the Union Buildings . It is in every South African’s interest to see Eskom thrive and the DA will continue to fight for an efficient, competitive and profitable Eskom.