DA submits request for a debate of national importance on a possible grid collapse

Issued by Samantha Graham-Maré MP – DA Shadow Minister of Electricity
23 May 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Samantha Graham-Maré MP.

The DA has submitted a request to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula, for a debate of national importance on the ever-present threat of a grid collapse and the implications that this will have on the country’s socio-economic order.

South Africans need answers on the contingency measures that government has in place to address this impending disaster. If we do not have plans in place, that have been adequately communicated to both, communities and the relevant disaster management departments, the impact of the load-shedding crisis could be catastrophic.

The mixed messages we are receiving from government about the possibility of a grid collapse amidst ongoing load-shedding, are doing little to allay the fears of ordinary South Africans. With the long, dark winter months looming, the outlook looks worse than ever.

The Minister of Electricity has predicted ongoing outages at Stage 6 with blackouts reaching Stage 8. This translates into 16 hours of load-shedding per 36-hour cycle. And at the back of everyone’s mind lies the horrific threat of a total grid collapse.

Instead of taking a proactive stance and actively preparing contingency plans for such an eventuality, Eskom and government provide the usual platitudes about how load-shedding is the mechanism by which Eskom is preventing a grid collapse. The fact is, that aside from the DA-run Western Cape Government, there are no contingency plans in place to address a grid collapse scenario across all Provinces in the country.

Of even greater concern is that protocols are being developed to implement Stage 9 blackouts and beyond. While these are designed to prevent a grid collapse, the impact of a large number of hours without electricity will have dire consequences. Cellular communications will be affected. The provisioning of water and the purification of sewerage will all but cease over protracted blackouts. The long, dark periods will impact on safety and security, of both people and infrastructure. And government, at all levels, has no plans in place to address these issues.

It is for this reason that I have written to the Speaker of Parliament to request an urgent debate of national importance It is the Democratic Alliance’s fervent hope that the Speaker accedes to our request and that this debate is held before we rise for the extended June to August constituency recess period. With the dire warning that we face our darkest winter ever, there is no time to waste.