** This story has been updated
Johannesburg - There will be a high risk of Stage 1 load shedding on Thursday evening from 5pm-10pm, Eskom announced.
The power utility explained that this is a result of a shortage of capacity due to the loss of generating units at its power stations but added that the load shedding would be implemented only "if absolutely necessary".
"The Winter Plan shared on April 3 2019 indicated that Eskom expects to implement 26 days of Stage 1 loadshedding during the winter period, depending on the level of unplanned breakdowns.
"Based on the Winter Plan, Eskom has successfully managed to go through 5 days without load shedding, where Stage 1 load shedding would have been implemented.
The power utility further added: We continue to encourage residents and businesses to use electricity smartly and sparingly during this period to beat the winter peak.
"By rallying together we can contribute to a saving of up to 500MW, which is equivalent of 1 unit at a power station. Please switch off geysers as well as all non-essential lighting and electricity appliances to assist in reducing demand".
Reacting to Eskom's announcement was DA shadow public enterprises minister Natasha Mazzone, who said the "threat" of rolling blackouts was proof the ANC and president Cyril Ramaphosa had no plan to keep the lights on.
Mazzone said Thursday's power alert came just after a "non-announcement" by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan last week where he failed to give any solutions to an ANC-created crisis.
"The truth is that the failing ANC government has no political will or durable plans to fix the broken power entity which has been hollowed out by decades of mismanagement and corruption.
"The ANC’s scheme of burning through billions of rands of diesel the country cannot afford to keep the lights on until after election day has now truly backfired," she said.
Instead of restructuring and unbundling Eskom to make it operationally and financially viable, said Mazzone, the ANC placed the interests of their trade union allies above those of South Africans who desperately needed the lights to stay on.
"Ramaphosa and [deputy president David] Mabuza do not know how to provide South Africans with a stable and reliable electricity supply. Instead of fixing Eskom, the ANC is choosing to engage in dirty electoral campaigns based on anarchy, violence and misinformation.
"Last year, the DA introduced the Independent Systems Market Operator (ISMO) bill or 'cheaper electricity bill'. The bill seeks to break Eskom into two separate entities - a generation and transmission/distribution entity. Our plan would see a generation entity which is privatised in an effort to break Eskom’s monopoly on production of energy, allowing independent power producers to compete on an equal footing in the generation sector," said Mazzone.
Only the DA was able to keep the light on, she concluded.
Customers are advised to keep checking their load shedding schedules on the Eskom or municipal website, and plan on the assumption that load shedding will take place.
Additional reporting by ANA