South Africa – President Cyril Ramaphosa has decided to cut his trip abroad short after Eskom announced load shedding will be increased to stage 6. This comes as the power utility continues to suffer breakdowns at its power stations.
The situation is dire as more businesses are impacted by loadshedding. The economy is struggling to recover as business and factories come to a standstill. While some blame the breakdowns on poor maintenance, others like Phapano Phasha, Anti-Poverty Forum SA, believe it is sabotage and there are those who are benefitting from it.
“The crisis at hand is primarily because we’ve got a president who’s also a businessperson. We do know that with this load shedding there are businesspeople who have been making a lot of money. Eskom is bringing more than 500 million litres of diesel. Now who are the people behind these diesel service providers at Eskom? I have been speaking to managers at different power stations who are saying that Eskom can be saved, loadshedding can be stopped. They’re saying that they know what needs to be done … Our logical conclusion is that Eskom is being deliberately sabotaged. That load shedding is benefiting a few businesspeople.”
The way forward and out of load shedding
It is clear to all that load shedding cannot continue. Talks were held at Eskom where the idea of having permanent stage 2 load shedding was floated around but ultimately dismissed. For Phasha, organisations and those within the African National Congress need to start speaking up.
“There is a lot that I believe can be done. Civil society movements like ourselves and progressives even within the ruling party must stand up. Unfortunately, what we’re not having, unlike with the Jacob Zuma’s administration, is a lot of people within the ANC speaking up against this administration. What we are being told is that some of the leaders of the ANC are afraid to speak up because if they do there is all likelihood that state agencies.”
What has to change for the situation to improve
Eskom is heading down a dangerous route which could see the whole country left in darkness. While the country has to live with load shedding, Eskom is currently seeking a 32% hike in tariffs. In the past five months of this financial year, Eskom has already burnt diesel worth around R7.7 billion which was the budget for the year. The solution for Phasha is to remove the current administration which is at fault for all of this.
“We have to remove the sitting president … We seriously have a problem. It means that we have to go out there and mobilise. We do not have the luxury to mourn. We need to remove this administration and need to ensure that corporations are not controlling and dictating us.”
While ordinary consumers are feeling the pinch, the proposed tariff hikes could make things substantially worse. For now, Eskom is trying to get the different units up and running as it tries to avoid a possible and likely blackout. Maintenance problems are a key factor to why these units break down and if this can’t be solved, the country could experience permanent load shedding.