As many businesses reopened this week, embattled power utility Eskom implemented load shedding yet again. Photo: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

DURBAN – One of South Africa's oldest trade unions, Uasa, on Friday slammed state power provider Eskom for its "incompetence". 

According to Uasa spokesperson, Stanford Mazhindu, Eskom having to implement stage two load shedding before industries restarted following the festive break was "a sad state of affairs".

"Eskom’s incompetence, if continued, will also have a disruptive effect on the enrolment and registration processes of universities and other tertiary institutions that may result in delays into the academic year," said Mazhindu. 

The World Bank has cut South Africa's economic growth forecast for 2020 to below 1 percent as a result of unstable power supply. 

Promises by president Cyril Ramaphosa that Eskom would not implement load shedding until mid-January had come to naught, said Mazhindu. 

"Uasa is deeply disappointed and pleads with newly appointed Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter to come up with a plan to rescue Eskom, starting with the power deficit and debts that are holding South Africa’s economy back. We applaud him for starting his tenure 15 days early as it signals the state of emergency at Eskom and that time is of the essence," said Mazhindu.

Mazhindu said the union also welcomed the department of mineral resources and energy issuing a request for information (RFI) in December for solutions to the power deficit.

"This week, potential developers were requested … to come up with detailed information on short and medium to long-term projects that can supply 3 000MW to provide for the power shortfall and restore system stability at a well-attended briefing session."

The submission deadline for proposals is January 31.

"Whatever happened to former energy minister Jeff Radebe’s plan to raise the threshold of private energy generation and allow private business to produce as much as 10MW without a licence?" wondered Mazhindu. "Large industries such as mining and manufacturing that have a huge demand for electricity will be able to take advantage of this and lessen the pressure on Eskom."

UASA represents about 500 000 members at a macro level and is an affiliate of the Federation of Trade Unions of SA (Fedusa). 

African News Agency (ANA)