Load shedding crisis: UDM wants parliamentary debate, DA blames govt and Gordhan

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  • The UDM wants Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to call MPs back from recess for an urgent debate on the Eskom crisis. 
  • Parliament is scheduled to be in recess until 15 August. 
  • The DA blames Pravin Gordhan and the ANC government for the rolling blackouts. 

Seeking a solution to the Eskom debacle, the UDM has written to Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to demand she convenes an urgent sitting of the National Assembly, despite Parliament being in recess.

The party is proposing an urgent debate on Eskom's failings, which have led to SA's rolling blackouts.

The country was plunged into Stage 6 load shedding on Tuesday. 

In addition, last month, the DA called for a parliamentary debate on the fuel price. 

READ | Stage 6 load shedding: What it means, and how bad it is

UDM MP Nqabayomzi Kwankwa wrote a letter, dated 29 June, to Mapisa-Nqakula, suggesting that the house be called back from recess, due to the seriousness of the crisis.

Kwankwa wants the Speaker to schedule a debate on the load shedding crisis and its effect on the economy and households.

He invoked Rule 130(3)(b), which provides for the Speaker to convene a special sitting of the house for an urgent discussion at the request of an MP.

To substantiate his call for the urgent debate, the UDM MP cited a study: "It is calculated that, as of March 2022, load shedding already caused lost economic output of about R700 million per stage per day and, in a presentation to Parliament on 15 March 2022, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) noted that 2021 was the worst year on record for load shedding, with 1 169 hours of outages and 2 521 GWh of energy shed."

He quoted the CSIR, which said that, based on 2021's data and the diesel price, SA faces additional costs of R15 billion.

READ | 'It's unfair' to blame me or govt for Eskom crisis - Mantashe on defensive at urgent Cabinet meeting

The DA's spokesperson, Ghaleb Cachalia, said that, beyond Eskom, the blame ought to be placed directly at the feet of the government and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. 

He said it was convenient for Gordhan, who conducted a press briefing on Tuesday, to blame striking Eskom workers and unions for the power utility's failings. 

"Striking workers and unions are not responsible for all the problems currently plaguing Eskom," said Cachalia.

"There may be some truth to the fact that there may be a problem with the striking workers, and we don't know what the agenda is there, but it's very convenient to blame all the issues on striking workers." He added:

The problems at Eskom are due to policy failure, due to governance failure, due to the failings of cadre deployed workers, and preferential procurement.

"The failures may also be attributed to the lack of employment of the right people to do the right jobs, and the maintenance programmes that are a joke, as well as debt levels that are unmanageable. 

"There is a legion of issues at Eskom that need to be placed at the government's feet."

READ | Your essential load shedding grocery list - plus recipes

He said that, when the DA called for a state of disaster to be declared, "the ANC put their head in the sand". 

"When, before that, I called for a commission of inquiry to look into what was going on at Eskom, the ANC again put their head in the sand - and, now, they are blaming the unions. This is being two-faced," he said.

Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said the power utility was experiencing unprotected strikes, which led to staff shortages, and which were causing delays in maintenance and repairs.

De Ruyter said Eskom had an unexpected loss of 14 204MW, and this was being made worse by shortages of coal and labour.

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