The Democratic Alliance (DA) has serious concerns about the consequences of the recent series of rolling blackouts announced by Eskom late this morning. In particular, we fear the impact that these blackouts could have on hospitals where people are fighting for their lives on ventilators as well as the repercussions it could have on the administration and the storage of vaccines when they arrive on our shores.
We call on the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to give absolute certainty that medical facilities and vaccine storage facilities will be protected against Eskom and his governance incompetence.
It has been 15 years since South Africa first encountered Eskom’s load shedding in 2006, and we have again been dealt this blow by the beleaguered power utility, this time in the middle of South Africa’s deadly Covid-19 second wave.
The Coronavirus pandemic that has had devastating consequences on our health system, and loadshedding will just add to this burden. Just like with the Covid-19 virus, South Africans are now clearly in a double fight for their lives and livelihoods.
Loadshedding will further acutely affect our already limping economy. Businesses which barely survived the devastating effects of the ANC hard economic lockdown, now face the very real possibility of completely shutting down the longer these blackouts continue.
With the extended level 3 lockdown, some companies have opted for their employees to work remotely. How can the government expect anyone – from entire industries to small businesses – to continue to be productive without a stable electricity supply? How can the government expect an economy reeling from its history of poor leadership and strangling lockdown regulations to thrive?
Adding to frustrations, government has instituted a curfew and restricted most outdoor activities. Due to loadshedding, activities at home – where we are now confined – are also being limited.
On 2 September 2015, Cyril Ramaphosa promised: “In another 18 months to two years, you will forget the challenges that we had with relation to power and energy and Eskom ever happened”.
Today, after announcing yet another series of rolling blackouts, it is still much the same. We need government to take the energy crisis at Eskom seriously and the latest rounds of loadshedding, together with its 15 year history, is indicative that the ANC is twiddling its thumbs.