Despite the numerous, highly-publicised interventions aimed at arresting the perennial load shedding gripping South Africa, there has not been a turnaround in the generation capacity deficiency, or the negative implications of the blackouts on the general populace.
IOL reported on Sunday that Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said everything was on track after Eskom announced the reduction of load shedding from the dreaded Stage 6 to Stage 4.
Between Monday and Friday this week, Stage 3 will be implemented during the day and Stage 4 load shedding will be implemented in the evenings.
Speaking to broadcaster Newzroom Afrika, engineer and energy expert Mthunzi Luthuli said there has not been progress.
“We are not moving forward. What is happening is that the politicians give nice sound-bites. They say we have turned the corner; we are stemming the tide and they use that type of language to do two things - to try and make sure that the public is not too anxious or too angry, and also to try and play down their failures,” said Luthuli.
“We are definitely not moving forward. The situation is not improving and we are not going to see an improvement over the festive season, definitely not.”
Last week’s heatwave in five provinces, including Gauteng, has been named as one of the reasons South Africa was suddenly plunged into Stage 6 load shedding.
Ramokgopa said the one of the reasons for the Stage 6 load shedding was the sudden spike in demand by over 1,500MW, the loss of five generating units and the need to replenish emergency generation reserves.
Luthuli said the reasons given did not make sense.
“Regarding the first reason, it is completely unacceptable. The 1,500 (MW) of so-called unexpected increase in demand, they attribute it to the heatwave and they said people were probably using air conditioners more than they normally do. This is not acceptable,” said Luthuli.
“Blaming the weather we have always had historically … we have always had warm summers and cold winters. When it is cold in winter, they tell us its cold that’s why we have load shedding. When it’s hot in summer, they tell us its hot that’s why we have load shedding. It’s nonsense.”
On Friday, Bheki Nxumalo, the head of generation at Eskom, told a media briefing that the heatwave, with an increased demand for air conditioning and fans, could be blamed for the load shedding at Stage 6 level.