Durban - Deputy President Paul Mashatile said yesterday that the government was hoping Eskom’s emergency procurement programmes would bring relief to South Africans who were suffering under the yoke of load shedding.
Mashatile’s comment came shortly after Eskom issued a statement yesterday announcing that the country’s power system was severely constrained, with a high risk of increased stages of load shedding during winter.
Mashatile, speaking on the sidelines of a two-day oversight visit in KwaZulu-Natal to eThekwini Metro and the uMgungundlovu District Municipality, said the government was determined to keep the lights on.
“Apart from appointing the minister of electricity, we have announced we are now embarking on procuring emergency power. We have also indicated that in some instances we will use diesel to keep the lights on, but we are also encouraging the private sector to come in and invest in this sector,” said Mashatile, adding that the government was still committed to renewable energy.
“We are determined to make sure that as we go forward we reduce the challenge of load shedding as much as we can. We are doing a lot and will keep making announcements.
“We have encouraged industry to look at solar systems and procure that. Government is prepared to subsidise there as well.”
Eskom’s board has approved three emergency procurement programmes that now only require the approval of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, which will host hearings today.
The three programmes that Eskom is seeking approval for are a 1 000MW scheme to secure additional cross-border electricity; the 2 000MW Load Shedding Reduction Programme and an 800MW Emergency Generation Procurement Programme.
This leaves the door open to the country procuring electricity from power-ships docked at one of the country’s ports or in a neighbouring country.
Mashatile’s comments came a day after ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula made promises that load shedding would end soon, saying that he was hopeful that the crisis could be resolved by the end of 2023.
Mbalula, speaking on Power to Truth with JJ Tabane, said the government was on top of the power crisis and that blackouts would be a thing of the past by the end of December.
“What I know from where I’m seated, from the work that’s been done by government and ministers and so on, the load shedding before the end of the year should have been something of the past,” he said.
“I can assure you that load shedding will be reversed and it will be dealt with decisively,” Mbalula said during the interview on Wednesday.
Last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa made a promise to business that the government was working to end load shedding in the short term while addressing the fifth South Africa Investment Conference in Sandton, Johannesburg.
“The lack of reliability in electricity supply weakens business and consumer confidence, taints international perceptions about our country and affects investment sentiment and decisions," Ramaphosa said.
“As we work to close the electricity supply shortfall and end load shedding in the short term, we are laying the foundation for a fundamental reform of the energy sector in the longer term.”
Solutions to address the crisis would be found in the energy action plan, introduced last year, he said.
Earlier yesterday, Mashatile, speaking at the Ntshongweni Catalytic Project Development, said the project had the support of the national government.
“This project must succeed and national government must be an active partner. When we return we want to see a new post-apartheid city coming up,” Mashatile said.
KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube said the project at Ntshongweni was a 152-hectare, R6.5-billion light industrial warehousing and logistics precinct that had created more than 2 500 jobs.
“It is expected to create 3 500 temporary construction jobs at peak, and approximately 6 500 permanent employment opportunities.
“Job creation has become an urgent issue in KwaZulu-Natal, and this is more pronounced among African women and men, and the youth of our province. We applaud the team behind the entire Ntshongweni catalytic project for the wonderful display of vision and tenacity to work together till the end is achieved.
“This project has also seen the empowerment of local business as we heard the testimony of how such a project can indeed transform lives.”