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Power cuts here for 12-18 months – South Africa

January 18, 2023 3:45 pm

Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan have until Friday to disclose government plans to end load shedding, and not to increase the price of electricity.

This follows a letter of demand by civil society organisations, unions and opposition parties, who are bracing for a possible legal showdown against Eskom.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana told international media in Davos, Switzerland, that the government had a plan to end load shedding within the next 12 to18 months.

“Eventually, in the next 12-18 months, we will be able to say load shedding is a thing of the past. That is the target,” Godongwana told Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF).

But the organisations are adamant that the government should disclose urgent interventions to end the power cuts.

The group, made up of opposition parties, unions, civic, faith organisations and individuals announced that they had initiated legal proceedings against Eskom and Gordhan, seeking to “put a stop to the 18.65% tariff increase by NERSA, put an end to load shedding, and hold the government accountable for its failure to provide electricity to the nation”.

The group includes UDM leader Bantu Holomisa, Build One South Africa (“BOSA”) founder Mmusi Maimane, the IFP, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA), and The Circle, a voluntary active citizenship organisation, among others.

Their lawyers have written a letter of demand to Eskom and Gordhan, giving them until Friday to respond, or court action would follow.

The letter stated that rolling blackouts have dogged the nation’s electricity supply since the second half of 2007.

“Notwithstanding the debilitating impact of load shedding, apparent to the state since 2007, energy sector reforms have been slow, if not non-existent,” the group said.

They said both Eskom and Gordhan were in breach of their obligation to provide electricity, citing the infringement of constitutionally-enshrined human rights, including the right to choose and practise a trade, occupation or profession freely, the right to an environment that is not harmful to people’s health or well-being, the right to health care, food, water and social security, and the right to education.

They also want answers on the nature of South Africa’s deal with America regarding energy investment.

“It has been reported that the President of the USA, Joe Biden, had announced that his country… had provided $8 billion-worth of loans to South Africa to assist the country to ‘shift from coal.

“Our clients do not understand the nature of the commitment that the country has entered into with the USA.

This is particularly so because it has also been reported that South Africa’s coal exports have increased.”

NUMSA was particularly concerned about the impact of closures of power stations on employment.

Meanwhile, DA leader John Steenhuisen said he had instructed their lawyers to apply to the high court for an interdict to stop the implementation of the decision to grant Eskom increases of 18.65% for the 2023/24 financial year, and a further 12.74% for the 2024/25 financial year.

Steenhuisen said they also wanted repeated decisions to implement load shedding declared inconsistent with the Constitution, and therefore invalid, among other things.

“As part of this application, we will also ask that the court direct the government to file, within 30 days, a comprehensive plan, including short-term, medium-term and long-term steps, to avert the energy crisis,” Steenhuisen said.

Eskom did not respond to specific questions on the looming court action, saying they would assess the content of the letter of demand and respond accordingly.

In terms of an end to load shedding, Eskom said: “The available generation capacity is expected to improve somewhat this week, and that may offer an improvement in the load-shedding stage.

However, the system remains unpredictable and unreliable, and any changes to the load-shedding stages will be communicated.”

The Department of Public Enterprises said: “The Department is still considering the letter and seeking legal advice on the matter, and will respond in due course.

We want to assure the public that everything possible is being done to end or minimise load shedding.

Author: Staff Writer

Power cuts here for 12-18 months – South Africa Reviewed by on . Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan have until Friday to disclose government plans to end load shedding, and not to increase the price of elect Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan have until Friday to disclose government plans to end load shedding, and not to increase the price of elect Rating: 0
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