/ 11 May 2023

Ramaphosa insists government is tackling load-shedding

State Of The Nation Address 2022 At Cape Town City Hall In South Africa
President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo by Jaco Marais/Pool Images/Gallo Images via Getty Images)

President Cyril Ramaphosa has rejected suggestions that his government has failed in its attempt to resolve the on-going electricity crunch, which has resulted in heightened levels of load-shedding.

The rolling blackouts and an update of what the recently appointed minister of electricity has done to tackle the energy crisis were central to the president’s question and answer session in parliament on Thursday. 

With the country still hampered by load-shedding and no end in sight, Ramaphosa conceded that Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa had his work cut out for him, and would be expected to coordinate all departments responsible for energy, as well as for turnaround plans and overseeing new generation capacity.

“The minister of electricity is responsible for overseeing all the aspects of the electricity crisis that we are going through,” the president said.

Ramaphosa said he had stated in 2019 that the country needed emergency power but the process of sourcing it had been blocked by interventions that were out of the government’s hands.

“I still say that South Africa needs emergency energy that we can bring in. Other countries on our continent have been doing it and immediately solved their energy crisis,” he said.

“Part of our plan is to work on demand management; rooftop solar installation is one of the interventions that will help to reduce the pressure on the grid and add more energy sources to our electricity landscape as we are repairing and maintaining our power stations.”

The president said he had not been presented with any evidence of cabinet members or senior government officials being involved in corruption at Eskom

“Anyone who does have such evidence should provide that information to the relevant authorities, so that thorough investigation of all credible allegations can be conducted. There are institutions whose role it is to investigate these allegations, as they have the legal mandate and personnel and capacity to investigate.”

Former Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter alleged in a television interview in February that politically-connected cartels were looting the utility.

On Thursday, Ramaphosa said he believed significant progress had been made by law enforcement agencies and Eskom in dealing with corruption at the entity, saying that various measures had been taken by the department of public enterprise.

Speaking about the exemption of public hospitals and schools, as well as police stations from load-shedding, the president said the matter should not be dealt with as a “one size fits all” issue but rather on a case by case basis.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Monday his department would lodge an urgent appeal to set aside last week’s Pretoria high court judgment exempting public health facilities, schools and police stations from rolling blackouts. 

“The department has studied the ruling and has determined through legal advice that the prudent step to take is to lodge an appeal to set aside the ruling and allow for the ongoing efforts to end load shedding to proceed without putting undue risk on the country’s grid infrastructure,” Gordhan said.