DA interim leader John Steenhuisen says Minister Gwede Manatshe should allow qualifying municipalities to procure electricity directly from IPPs. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)

DA interim leader John Steenhuisen says Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe should allow qualifying municipalities to bypass Eskom and procure electricity directly from independent power producers (IPPs). 

Steenhuisen said contrary to statements by President Cyril Ramaphosa, immediate action can be taken to tackle the pressure on Eskom to supply electricity. He said this can be done by using section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act (4 of 2006) and allow municipalities to get electricity from IPPs. 

“Contrary to the president’s views, this can be done overnight and would go a long way to resolving energy shortages and pressure on the grid. Introducing IPPs into the mix is now a necessity. In fact, right now minister Mantashe is sitting with at least seventeen sections 34 applications for private generation and purchase of electricity on his desk waiting to be signed – from municipalities, mines and corporations. The president must intervene and ensure these are acceded to within the next 48 hours,” Steenhuisen said at presser outside Eskom head offices in Megawatt Park. 

Steenhuisen’s statement follows rolling blackouts conducted by Eskom in order to lessen the pressure on the electricity grid. South Africans have been experiencing stage 4 load shedding for days now and on Monday the utility increased it to stage 6. 

The DA has called for Ramaphosa to return to the country from Egypt and convene an emergency address in Parliament. 

Steenhuisen said to ensure stability in the future, Eskom needs to be split in two. 

“In the medium term, we must split Eskom into two separate entities – one for generation and the other supply. This would ensure a greater supply of energy to the grid from IPPs and bring down the cost of electricity for ordinary South Africans by introducing competition into the energy market,” he said. 

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa issued a statement on Tuesday morning acknowledging the devastation caused by the rolling blackouts. He said he was in constant communication with Eskom and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. 

“Our immediate priority is to get as much generating capacity back online within the shortest possible time. Eskom’s emergency response command centre and technical teams are working around the clock to fix multiple breakdowns,” Ramaphosa said. 

Political Bureau