While Eskom continued to plunge South Africans into stage 3 load shedding last night, President Cyril Ramaphosa claims the “worst is behind us and the end of load shedding is finally within reach.”
Ahead of Ramaphosa’s remarks during the State of the Nation Address (Sona) on Thursday night, Public Enterprises Deputy Minister Obed Bapela told reporters that by 2025 load shedding will be history.
“We will definitely see an end around 2025. For now, we will keep it lower to Stage 1 and 2. Stage 3 will only arise here and there, but in the main (we want) to keep it between stages 1 and 2 so that it is predictable and that people can plan their lives knowing that we are on the road to ending it,” said Bapela.
Delivering the last Sona of the 6th administration Ramaphosa told the gathering at the Cape Town Hall that his government was on track to resolve the most important constraints on economic growth by stabilising the country’s energy supply and fixing the logistics system.
“As these obstacles are removed, the true potential of our economy is unleashed. We set out a clear plan to end load shedding, which we have been implementing with a single-minded focus through the National Energy Crisis Committee. We have delivered on our commitments to bring substantial new power through private investment to the grid, which is already helping to reduce load shedding,” he said.
Ramaphosa said Eskom has connected more than 2,500 MW of solar and wind power to the grid with three times this amount already in procurement or construction, since the revival of the renewable energy programme five years ago.
“We have more than doubled the amount of rooftop solar capacity installed across the country in just the past year. We have implemented sweeping regulatory reforms to enable private investment in electricity generation, with more than 120 new private energy projects now in development.
These are phenomenal developments that are driving the restructuring of our electricity sector in line with what many other economies have done to increase competitiveness and bring down prices.”
He said South Africa will implement a just energy transition at a pace, scale and cost that it can afford and in a manner that ensures energy security.
He identified corruption and state capture as among the overriding challenges his administration had to deal with when it took office.
Just last week experts identified South Africa’s lowest score ever in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) as a sign that the Ramaphosa presidency has failed to meet the heightened levels of urgency to turn the corner on corruption generated by state capture.
At a score of 41, South Africa was one of 23 countries that reached their lowest-ever scores this year. Among those implicated in state capture reports included ministers serving in Ramaphosa’s cabinet.
However, Ramaphosa said great progress was being made in bringing those responsible for state capture to justice.
He said more than 200 accused persons were being prosecuted, more were under investigation and stolen funds were being recovered.
“We will not stop until every person responsible for corruption is held to account. We will not stop until all stolen money has been recovered. We will not stop until corruption is history,” he said.
Freezing orders of R14 billion have been granted to the NPA’s Asset Forfeiture Unit for state capture-related cases, and around R8.6 billion in corrupt proceeds have been returned to the state.
“A restored and revitalised SARS has collected R4.8 billion in unpaid taxes as a result of evidence presented at the State Capture Commission, while the Special Investigating Unit has instituted civil litigation to the value of R64 billion.
“We have taken steps, including through new legislation, to strengthen our ability to prevent money laundering and fraud and secure our removal from the “grey list” of the Financial Action Task Force.
With the assistance of business, we have set up a digital forensic capability to support the NPA Investigating Directorate, which in due course will be expanded to support law enforcement more broadly.
Legislation is currently before Parliament to establish the Investigating Directorate as a permanent entity with full investigating powers. But there is much more work to be done to eradicate corruption completely.”
DA leader John Steenhuisen said none of the promises Ramaphosa made in his last five Sona speeches have ever been kept. “The South African economy has all but flatlined, there are no new jobs, corruption is worse than it has ever been, crime is spiralling out of control, and millions of our children are starving to death.”