Power supply: It’s going to get tough, minister warns

2014-11-27 20:00

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When it comes to power supply, the next two years are going to be tough, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has warned.

Speaking during debate in the National Assembly today on embattled power utility Eskom’s ability to keep the lights on, she called on South Africans to work together to see the country through the crisis.

“[We are] facing a very serious national challenge... the solution lies in every citizen who is able to help, pulling together.”

“This is not only an Eskom problem. Eskom must fix Eskom. It is an energy and electrical problem. This is not only a government problem. This is a problem which affects all of us.

“In the interests of this nation, can we please work together to solve our collective problem in the spirit and manner in which we rose to the challenge of 2010 [World Cup]. As in 2010, failure is simply not an option,” she said.

Earlier, African National Congress MP Dipuo Letsatsi-Duba told the House there was no power crisis.

“I want to say there is no crisis... there’s no crisis,” the ANC MP declared.

Her statement was greeted with loud heckling from opposition benches, and prompted Democratic Alliance MP Mike Waters to rise and tell the House: “I know we’re in the silly season, but the Honourable Member’s comments are totally out of order.”

Letsatsi-Duba, who chairs Parliament’s public enterprises portfolio committee, also told MPs the reason for Eskom’s existence was to drive what she called a developmental agenda.

“This means Eskom is tasked with... development mandates that are strategically positioned to generate the revenue sufficient to cover the cost associated with executing its respective mandate,” she said.

DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane told the House there was “a full-blown energy crisis”.

African Christian Democratic Party leader said: “There is a serious crisis at Eskom.”

Inkatha Freedom Party MP Albert Mncwango described what was happening with Eskom as “a crisis of epic proportions”.

Their concerns were voiced as South Africans brace for another weekend of possible power cuts.

Earlier this week, Brown said South Africans needed to prepare themselves for tough measures needed to make the power supply sustainable.

Eskom this week warned the country may face another weekend of constrained power supply, and more possible power cuts.

The power supplier has previously explained that so-called load-shedding is necessary to protect the national grid from a total blackout, which, if it occurred, could take weeks to rectify.

Speaking in the debate, Brown said things were going to get tough.

“The bad news is, that it is going to be very tough for about two years longer, and patience will be needed on the part of all citizens.”

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