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As South Africa remains in the grips of Stage 6 load shedding - with large electricity tariff hikes also now on the cards - minister Gwede Mantashe claims the power crisis can be tackled within just six to 12 months.
"Eskom must do introspection: do we have the capacity to deal with the crisis? If not can we go out and look for that capacity… it will take us six to 12 months to solve this issue if we pay attention to that," the minister of Mineral Resources an Energy said in an interview with eNCA on Friday.
Mantashe's comments come just as the ANC, at its 55th National Conference, resolved to move certain state-owned entities back into their relevant portfolios. This would see Eskom moved out of Pravin Gordhan's Department of Public Enterprises and into Mantashe's department.
Mantashe has been openly critical of Eskom management and last month went so far to accuse the utility CEO and his team of "actively agitating for the overthrow of the state" in their failure to arrest load shedding. Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter has since tendered his resignation.
"In Eskom, we have 48 000MW connected to the grid but Eskom at best can give us 26 000MW. There's 22 000MW that is idling but connected, it is not decommissioned," Mantashe said.
"And if there was a focus on servicing and maintaining those megawatts, we wouldn't have load shedding."
Mantashe said the rollout of government's renewables programme would then complement Eskom's generation capacity in the medium to long term, noting he is a "big believer" in a mixture of technologies because he knows the shortcomings of renewables.
"But in the immediate, we need our coal power station to generate optimally and to give us energy," he said.