By Kevin Mileham MP (DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy) and Ghaleb Cachalia MP (DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises)
The DA calls for the immediate return of President Cyril Ramaphosa to South Africa to address the worsening electricity crisis that is one loadshedding stage away from a total grid collapse. Over the past few weeks, Ramaphosa has ignored several DA warnings that his Energy Response Plan had veered off the track due to an ineffective National Electricity Crisis Committee (NECC).
With Eskom announcing Stage 6 loadshedding due to a system-wide failure of generation units across its generation fleet, Ramaphosa is now duty bound to heed the DA call and declare a ring-fenced State of Disaster around Eskom. Eskom’s plant performance has continued to deteriorate substantially in the past week, confirming a power plant maintenance plan that is in crisis.
Now that it has become clear that sub-contracting the implementation of the Energy Response Plan to his NECC was a bad idea to begin with and little traction has been made Ramaphosa should now take active control of the implementation process and ensure timely delivery of the plan’s short term targets to plug the electricity supply gap. Better still, as we have repeatedly said, declare a ring-fenced state of disaster around the beleaguered entity.
Data from the DA’s Energy Response Plan Implementation Tracker has repeatedly shown that Ramaphosa’s plan lacks urgency due to the absence of measurable targets and a clear timeline on project deliverables.
Almost two months after announcement of the plan, the country is still in the dark on:
- Recruitment or rehiring of experienced former Eskom staff (Engineers, Power station managers);
- Procurement of electricity from neighboring countries (just an admission that negotiations are ongoing);
- The plan to eliminate sabotage, theft and fraud at Eskom; and
- National treasury’s plan to expand tax incentives for residential and commercial installations, which is still pending
As the Executive stands idly by as the country hurtles towards a possible grid collapse, National Assembly Speaker, Nosiviwe Mapisa Nqakula has refused to hold them accountable. She has ignored the DA’s call to establish an Ad-hoc Committee to exercise oversight over NECC and the implementation of the Energy Response Plan. By so doing, she has reduced Parliament to a spectator on the electricity crisis and undermined Parliament’s constitutional function to hold the executive to account.
Eskom’s failure to provide reliable supply of electricity makes the 32% tariff increase application to NERSA simply out of touch with reality. The DA reiterates its call that Eskom should not be rewarded for keeping South Africans in the dark. Consumers must not be forced to bear the financial burden of the ANC government’s failure to address an electricity crisis that has been 15 years in the making. In view of the state’s patent failure to deliver on Eskom’s mandate it is time for the private sector to be engaged with urgency.