Picture: Mike Hutchings/Reuters
Cape Town - Is it deliberate or is it a genuine breakdown at Eskom?

This is the question that the ANC is grappling with as it tries to make sense of the load shedding at the power utility that took even President Cyril Ramaphosa by surprise.

ANC acting national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said that the breakdown at Eskom plants was an attempt to sabotage Ramaphosa’s new vision for the country.

“The coincidence is suspicious. This comes a few days after the president made very bold statements during the State of the Nation Address (Sona) about growing the economy and boosting investment,” Kodwa said on the sidelines of the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday.

Kodwa said the government’s intention to unbundle Eskom, as announced by Ramaphosa, would make the struggling state-owned enterprise more profitable.

On Tuesday, Eskom implemented Stage 3 load shedding. According to the utility, despite the generating units returning to service as planned, the emergency reserves of diesel and water supply remained low.

Stage 3 called for 3000MW to be rotationally load shed nationally at a given period.

Economist Mike Schussler said there could be sabotage at play.

“It’s a nightmare for the economy and we could see the economy shrink by 5% and if this continues it will be tragic for consumers.

“Eskom has not managed its networks well and we are slowly finding out how damaging there systems are,” he said.

Professor Bheki Mngomezulu, from the University of the Western Cape’s political science faculty, said that Eskom’s explanation does not hold any substance.

“The load shedding problem could have been avoided if there were plans in place.

“What we know is that Eskom has continued to pay out bonuses and has requested loans from government which shows that the money has not been used properly,” he said.

Mngomezulu added that we could see political parties use Eskom as a ploy as we edge closer to elections,

“Political parties are having a good day because they are going to continue to use Eskom as a playground to get votes and for their personal gain.”

It didn’t come as a surprise that Eskom’s woes dominated the Sona debate in Parliament on Tuesday as opposition parties called on the president to intervene.

ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu said the crisis at Eskom has to be fixed.

“The crisis is a cause for concern as it negatively affects our economic ambitions.

“We are nonetheless hopeful that our government will act swiftly to arrest this situation, especially the current episodes of load shedding,” said Mthembu.

IFP spokesperson on public enterprises Narend Singh said the continued incompetence and mismanagement at Eskom remained one of the greatest risks to our national security and tanking of the economy.

“The ANC must own up to its own complicity in aiding and abetting the current state of collapse at Eskom.

“Eskom has for many years under the leadership of the ANC failed.”

Good leader Patricia de Lille said that the country was being held to ransom by a cadre of corrupt and unethical people.

“Power cuts are estimated to be costing our country between R2 billion and R5bn a day,” De Lille said.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse’s Ronal Chauke said: “Eskom’s ageing power plants require urgent attention to keep the lights on and it would appear that the lack of maintenance over the past years is catching up with us today.”

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