Stage 8+ load-shedding: Does the government have contingency plans?

Issued by Ghaleb Cachalia MP – DA Shadow Minister for Public Enterprises
22 Feb 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The DA is alarmed by mounting signs that South Africa is hurtling towards stage 8 load-shedding, and beyond, over the coming weeks. Our economy is already reeling from the devastating impact of up to 6 stages of load-shedding. Just how 8 generating units all break down simultaneously– which currently amounts to 21 243MW of generating capacity plus 3 566W of out due to planned maintenance is anyone’s guess.

Now that we are faced with stage 6 loadshedding with the prospect of further escalation it raises the question as to what exactly has the Eskom board done to achieve the targets it set itself just two weeks ago? The effect on lives and livelihoods of Stage 8 and above may well lead to a complete shutdown of South African society, as businesses shut their doors and service delivery grinds to a complete halt.

Eskom’s ever-changing approach to the crisis was confirmed by Eskom executives, announcing that the Energy Availability Factor target at the end of March of 60%, set by the company’s Board Chair a few weeks ago, was no longer achievable. While all independent energy experts had warned that such a target was unrealistic, it is concerning that Eskom’s Board was comfortable with giving the country false hope. Such recklessness in the midst of a crisis is irresponsible and the Board must be held to account.

Moreover, Eskom’s systems operator has confirmed that the utility has begun putting contingency measures in place to communicate and manage even higher stages of rolling blackouts. It is more than concerning that this steady escalation has now brought us to the brink of stage 8. What contingency measures are in place to avert outright societal collapse when load-shedding is escalated to even higher stages? What should citizens do to prepare for this scenario? And when are we likely to hit stage 8?

The DA has already submitted a series of requests in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act to all government departments to find out whether they have contingency plans for stage 8 and above. Accordingly, the DA undertakes to expose the government’s apparent absence of plans to manage the societal meltdown that may well follow a further escalation in load-shedding.

That aside, who in their right mind is going to accept the job as CEO under these circumstances – let alone the free cyanide-laced coffee on offer for anyone who doesn’t toe the line of the various mafias operating within the beleaguered entity?

Then there’s the prospect of being governed by two waring ministries and one über minister of electricity – three whole ministries who are unable to replace one proverbial lightbulb – not to speak of the plethora of war rooms, national crisis committees, presidential advisors and the prospect of the direful and unnerving spectre of Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma haunting the newly declared national state of disaster.

All of this while the nation is in the dark – currently hobbled by 8-12 hour blackouts and a total absence of transparency about efforts, prospects and eventualities.

The DA demands action and clarity to deal with Eskom so that at least we will be knowledgeable about the real state of our electricity woes and whether we have plans in place for stage 8 and above. The nation needs to know what efforts and plans exist to deal with the impending and ever increasing gloom and murk that surrounds us, our lives and our businesses.