I don’t understand Ramaphosa’s load shedding apology, says former Statistician General Pali Lehohla

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File Picture

President Cyril Ramaphosa. File Picture

Published Jan 15, 2023


Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest apology about the endless blackouts, evidenced by failing electricity supplier Eskom introducing daily stage 6 load shedding, has been received with a pinch of salt.

Dr Pali Lehohla, former Statistician General of South Africa, told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika that there had been a trend of making State entities fail, setting them up for privatisation.

“The president was in the war room. Financing for regular maintenance was withdrawn. You defund, make sure things don’t work, the people get angry, and then privatise it, sell it for a song. That’s what we are headed towards at the moment,” Lehohla said.

“So, I don’t understand the apology. I mean, the president has been there in the (Eskom) war room. He understands the importance of Eskom. But the decisions that they have taken, particularly in the period of trying to please the world with the just energy transition, were completely foolish.

Former Statistician-General, Dr Pali Lehohla. File Picture: Thobile Mathonsi

“One is not saying do not burn the planet, but when you take foolish decisions like those ones at that time, at that apex level, it really begs the question, how are we led? To close a plant that is functioning, (producing) a thousand megawatts …”

Lehohla argued that closing the coal-fired power stations like Komati “was all about money, and not about the climate change or anything”.

He said there is an underlying agenda to make Eskom fail, like other State entities, and privatise it ultimately.

“Eskom was corporatised in 2001 or 2002, having performed as the best institution, getting credits higher than the sovereign itself, when it was not corporatised. What was the sickness in Eskom? There was no sickness. The sickness starts with corporatisation, and then subtle privatisation, then the issue of just energy comes,” said Lehohla.

“The formula, as we saw now, is closing down working coal-fired power stations like Komati, which was pumping a thousand megawatts.”

Earlier, IOL reported that the Presidency said the National Energy Crisis Committee remains hard at work to continue to make progress in their attempts to stabilise the grid and find additional megawatts despite the current load shedding.

Spokesperson for the president, Vincent Magwenya, said: “President Ramaphosa deeply regrets the current energy situation, which has placed the country into stage 6 load shedding.

“The president acknowledges the frustration of households, parents and learners who have commenced the school calendar year facing power shortages.

“The devastation to small businesses and the adverse impact to the economy remains severe for South Africa’s recovering economy.”

Ramaphosa convened a National Energy Crisis Committee comprising ministers, and various technical workstream leads on December 15, 2022, demanding urgency and speed in the implementation of all priority areas and actions laid out in the National Energy Plan despite some of the progress that has been made.

“To date, Ramaphosa remains seized with finding a sustainable solution to the current energy crisis. The president has been regularly briefed on the situation at Eskom and on the roll out of the National Energy Plan.

“More engagements are scheduled for today and tomorrow for a review of the situation and direction on urgent measures that must be undertaken in order to mitigate against the impact of load shedding,” said Magwenya.