Maimane: Eskom must declare national energy crisis

The DA has demanded that President Jacob Zuma sign the Ismo Bill into law, which will open the electricity grid to independent power producers. (Delwyn Verasamy. M&G)

The DA has demanded that President Jacob Zuma sign the Ismo Bill into law, which will open the electricity grid to independent power producers. (Delwyn Verasamy. M&G)

Eskom must declare the rolling blackouts a national crisis, Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said on Tuesday.

Maimane was speaking outside the offices of the public enterprises ministry in Pretoria where he handed over a list of demands addressed to minister Lynne Brown.

“The president, the public enterprises minister and Eskom must come clean and acknowledge that load shedding is indicative of a national electricity crisis,” said Maimane.

“Now more than ever we need to see transparency and honesty from government on the full extent of the crisis, and the plans in place to solve it.”

Read: DA: ANC has reduced Parliament to an absolute joke

On Monday, Eskom chief executive Tshediso Matona said the country was not experiencing a power supply crisis – instead, the manner in which Eskom was reported on created the perception of a crisis.

“South Africans know that it is completely untrue that we are not facing a crisis,” Maimane said. “This crisis has touched the daily lives of all South Africans, and affects every aspect of our existence, including our transport infrastructure, our water supply, our hospitals and our schools.”

Ismo Bill
Maimane demanded that President Jacob Zuma immediately sign the Independent System and Market Operator (Ismo) Bill into law, which will open the electricity grid to independent power producers.

“This bill will provide the legal and regulatory framework for independent power producers to contribute to the grid, but it continues to gather dust on President Zuma’s desk,” Maimane said.

An immediate moratorium on bonuses for Eskom executives should be implemented.

“Former Eskom CEO Brian Dames earned R23-million last year while load shedding continued to hit households and businesses with greater intensity,” said Maimane.

“Eskom must show commitment to freezing any intended bonus payments to its executives until South Africa’s power generating capacity exceeds demand by at least a 15% reserve margin.”

Consumers should be receiving tax benefits for buying generators. “This exorbitant expense can be directly attributed to Eskom’s failure to provide the basic service of electricity,” Maimane said.

“Minister Brown ... should be at the forefront of negotiating these tax deductions with the national treasury to see their inclusion in the forthcoming budget.”

‘World Cup’ approach
The last demand on the DA’s list was that government followed a “World Cup approach” to completing the Medupi and Kusile power stations.

“Medupi should have been online by 2007/ 8 already, yet experts estimate that it will not even reach 10% of its promised capacity to generate electricity by late next year,” said Maimane.

“Every possible step must be taken to prevent further work stoppages and disruptions at the power plants.
No further strikes can be tolerated, and if necessary government must enact regulations to bar labour disruptions at Medupi and Kusile [construction sites].” – Sapa

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