KZN has no back-up plan to deal with a total electricity blackout

‘Despite warnings of a total blackout since last year, KZN’s ANC-run government only began looking at an action plan in March this year.’

‘Despite warnings of a total blackout since last year, KZN’s ANC-run government only began looking at an action plan in March this year.’

Published May 8, 2023


Durban – The DA in KwaZulu-Natal says that a written provincial parliamentary reply to questions by the party has revealed that the KZN government does not have a contingency plan in place to deal with a total electricity blackout.

That was according to DA KZN Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) spokesperson Martin Meyer who said that raising the possibility of a total blackout was not fear-mongering. According to energy experts in the country, it was a real threat. This is as Eskom’s power grid remains under severe pressure and the country continue to endure Stage 6 load shedding.

He said the DA submitted had parliamentary questions in a bid to ascertain KZN’s readiness to deal with such a situation.

Meyer had asked KZN Cogta MEC Bongiwe Sithole-Moloi questions based on the state of Eskom and the increasing likelihood of a national blackout, where the whole country could be without electricity for a prolonged period.

Meyer asked Sithole-Moloi if the KZN Provincial Disaster Management Centre had an emergency plan in the case of such a total blackout and if yes, who was involved in the drawing up of such a plan.

“The KZN Response Plan to load shedding proposed an establishment of the KZN Energy War Room (KZNEWR) which was supported at the KZN PEC on March 15, 2023, (supported with conditions),” Sithole-Moloi said.

According to the MEC, the final KZN response plan to the energy crisis was to be discussed at the KZNEWR kick-off meeting later in March.

She said that the analysis of the impact of load shedding in the province and the proposed interventions was co-ordinated by Cogta, and input was received from several stakeholders, including:

  • All KZN district and local municipalities
  • South African Local Government Association (Salga)
  • Municipal Infrastructure Support Agent (Misa)
  • KZN economic council, business sector and energy experts through a webinar hosted by the premier on March 8, 2023
  • Energy Transformation Summit which took place on March 1 and 2, 2023 at the Durban ICC.

“The KZNEWR comprises of all relevant provincial departments, eThekwini Metro, Eskom and KZN Secondary Cities, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), Salga and energy experts, chaired by the premier (Nomusa Dube-Ncube),” Sithole-Moloi said.

Meyer also asked Sithole-Moloi for a copy of the emergency plan if it had been put together.

“The response plan and Energy War Room ToR’s were supported by the KZN provincial executive council on March 15, 2023, and the current draft documents are being amended to incorporate the inputs of the PEC. The final response plan will be discussed at the KZNEWR kick-off meeting. Thereafter, the KZN response plan will become available,” Sithole-Moloi said.

Meyer said the DA was concerned about the answers given by the MEC and her department.

“Despite warnings of a total blackout since last year, KZN’s ANC-run government only began looking at an action plan in March this year. According to the reply, meetings and workshops were held, but there is still no emergency plan in place,” Meyer said.

“The impact of a complete blackout on our already ailing province would be catastrophic, affecting the delivery of basic services including water, communication, and more. It would lead to a shutdown of the economy, affect the availability of food supplies, and have a massive negative impact on health care.”

He said that if this was linked to the province's understaffed and underfunded Disaster Management Centre, the consequences of a total blackout could be devastating.

He also said that the situation in KZN, the second-most populated province in the country, was in stark contrast to that of the Western Cape, which had developed a blackout contingency strategy.

“The DA encourages Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube and MEC Sithole-Moloi to stop wasting time, take a leaf out of the Western Cape’s book and finalise an emergency plan. This must be made public so that KZN’s people can prepare for the possibility of a complete blackout,” Meyer said.

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