Many businesses and shops were left in the dark for over 2 hours as loadshedding took place. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) joined the chorus of criticism aimed at Eskom and the government on Wednesday following the implementing of load shedding earlier in the day. 

The party said it was "gravely concerned" at Eskom's decision to resume stage 2 load shedding due to a shortage of capacity, as the rolling blackouts would negatively affect efforts at economic recovery and Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs).

The power utility said there was a chance the blackouts could last the entire week. 

"Electricity is a prerequisite for proper functioning of nearly all sub-sectors of the economy. We are of the view that this development will lead to further economic deterioration, and it is sad that this is happening at a time when we should be making all efforts to find ways and means to resuscitate the ailing economy. 

"The biggest casualties when this happens will be SMMEs, whose businesses are highly dependent on a steady supply of electricity. This is because they do not have capacity to easily use other sources of energy, such as generators, as big businesses do," said IFP KZN spokesperson on economic development, Otto Kunene. 

He said business operations and financial viability would be affected, with the immediate consequence being a reduction in productivity. This would in turn result in slower economic growth in the province. Some businesses would probably also consider laying off workers to mitigate the effects of revenue loss. 

"Big businesses, using generators, have seen production costs rise while smaller businesses have cut production or operate at night when the power is on. High production costs are also compounded by overtime payments when employees have to work beyond the usual time due to availability of power later in the day. Machine repair costs are also not uncommon. Power cuts come with damage to machinery in some cases, forcing businesses to spend on unplanned maintenance costs to keep the machines running," said Kunene. 

The IFP regretted the reintroduction of load shedding, he said, and cautioned the government that if it were to continue, it would have devastating effects on the provincial and national economies. 

African News Agency (ANA)