Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says the reason the country has stage 6 load shedding was because of the illegal industrial action that started last week.
Gordan said the industrial action has worsened the situation in terms of the production of electricity by Eskom.
Gordhan briefed the media virtually on an urgent basis regarding the latest challenges at Eskom
Gordhan said when they talk of stage 1, 2, 3 or 4 load shedding, each of the levels represents a 1000 megawatts that is taken out of the system.
“What level 6 means is 6000 megawatts cannot be supplied by Eskom for the reasons I will explain. During winter the demand is about 32 000 megawatts. Eskom will not be able to supply that, it will be able to supply 6000 less than the 32 000 megawatts, and it doesn't mean that the whole country gets into a blackout, it means on a locational basis each municipality will have two, three or four hours of load shedding, depending on the circumstances in a particular area on a rotational basis,” Gordhan.
Earlier yesterday, Eskom officials held an emergency media briefing to warn the country of the possibility of stage 6 load shedding later that night. At that time Ekom said this was over what they called an unlawful industrial action taking place at power stations.
At around 2pm, Eskom announced that it was implementing load shedding stage 6 from 4pm to midnight.
This is the second time in the country’s history it has experienced stage 6. The last time it happened was in 2019.
“Eskom is in this position because of the industrial action, which has meant that in many, many power stations up to 90% of the staff could not attend to their duties at the power stations because of intimidation at their homes, and intimidating phone calls,” Gordhan said.
Meanwhile, the City of Joburg’s multi-party government has announced that it is actively working on long-term solutions to mitigate blackouts in Johannesburg.
Gordhan showed the nation pictures of the kind of damage done as a result of petrol bombs and other devices thrown at the homes of managers, their cars and the power station.
While showing pictures of intimidation, Gordhan showed a home petrol bombed, another home where a baby-chair was burned during the attack, vehicles were set alight and electricity supply to homes tampered with, more vehicles damaged and roads blocked.
Gordhan said the intimidation was unacceptable in any democracy.
Johannesburg recently held its first Energy Indaba to attract investment in alternative-energy solutions, and to start the process of bringing on board independent power producers, so they can begin offsetting rolling blackouts.
Mayoral spokesperson Mabine Seabe said it was announced as one of the Energy Indaba’s resolutions, that Environment and Infrastructure Services MMC Michael Sun would lead a delegation from City Power to visit the City of Cape Town.
This will be on a benchmarking programme to learn more about their process of procuring IPPs, as well as the City of Cape Town’s progress made on finding alternative and long-term solutions to the energy crisis, which in part means reducing Joburg’s dependency on Eskom.
Seabe said Sun, the acting chief executive of City Power Tshifularo Mashava, and director of energy at City Power Meyrick Ramatlo, visited the City of Cape Town to meet with mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis, and Energy MMC Beverly van Reenen. They embarked on site visits to the Steenbras pumped-storage power station and the Bloemhof network control centre.
He said this was part of actioning their commitments to the residents of the City of Joburg at the Energy Indaba to improve electricity supply, create opportunities for energy resilience, and attract investment to the city.
Eskom blamed the blackouts on what they called “unlawful and unprotected strikes” by some of its employees, according to the utility’s spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha.
The leadership of the National Union of Mineworkers, represented by the general secretary, William Mabapa, and the leadership of the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, represented by the general secretary Irvin Jim, met with the Eskom leadership represented by the group chief executive officer, Andre de Ruyter, and group executive for human resources, Elsie Pule, yesterday and again today, June 28, to discuss the current deadlock in the Eskom wage negotiations between the parties, NUM national spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said.
“In light of these developments, we call on workers at Eskom to normalise the situation, given that Eskom has returned to the negotiating table. We are calling on our members to give this process and the CBF meeting on Friday the necessary chance to settle the current dispute,” said Mammburu.