Eskom crisis: ANC MPs call on 'every power station manager to come and account'

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  • The ANC's caucus in Parliament met with Eskom officials on the country's worsening energy crisis.
  • MPs apparently told the Eskom leadership to get their act together and address the decade-long problem.
  • There were also calls for all Eskom power station managers to account to Parliament.

The ANC's caucus in Parliament wants every single Eskom power station manager to account for the breakdowns and poor management that have left South Africans without electricity for up to 12 hours daily.

Several sources told News24 that the meeting, which blurred the lines between the party and government, took place on Monday night, where Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan, Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and the Eskom leadership were peppered with questions on the rolling blackouts.

However, according to the sources, Eskom merely presented an outline of the current challenges it faces. They did not want to divulge what Mantashe and Gordhan had said in the meeting. 

MPs apparently told the Eskom leadership to get their act together and address the decade-long problem.

"We told Eskom that we are tired of the lies, and we want to get to the bottom of all of this. We want every power station manager to come and account. If there is mismanagement under their watch, we need to ask them what they have done. We are paying this company huge amounts of money. We need to know why everything is breaking down now," said one MP, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

READ | SA egg industry in crisis as soaring costs force a tenth of small farmers to close shop

Another MP said independent power producers would only come on board in a few months' time. This means that should the energy crisis not be addressed, Eskom will continue to implement high stages of loadshedding.

ANC MPs made it clear that the situation could not continue and demanded concrete plans to solve the crisis.

There was also a debate on the use of coal versus renewable energy, but MPs told Eskom the debate should stop because a mixture was needed.

 "The coal is there. We will still have power stations," it was said.

Other MPs called on Eskom to ensure that South Africa had enough coal supply before it was sold off to other parts of the world.

Another MP, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, downplayed the meeting as an ordinary meeting of the ANC caucus.

It was argued that the ANC did not invite officials to account to them and that ministers, who are also ANC members, ordinarily addressed the caucus on issues such as Eskom's challenges.

Eskom denied that the meeting took place and, in a response to News24's questions, its spokesperson, Sikonathi Mantshantsha, said:

I am not aware of any meeting Eskom held with the caucus of any political party. I am only aware of Eskom having met the president and some Cabinet ministers this afternoon, as communicated in the Eskom statement I published in the afternoon.

ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina did not want to comment on the matter and Gordhan's spokesperson, Richard Mantu, read questions News24 had sent to him but did not respond. 

Amid the deepening electricity crisis, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) approved an 18.65% tariff hike.

South Africa has experienced load shedding every day this year, compared to no load shedding over the same period in 2022. Load shedding was implemented every day in November and December.

Eskom announced last week that Stage 6 load shedding would continue until further notice.

READ | Eskom and Treasury at odds over diesel funds as load shedding crisis deepens

However, on Monday the embattled power utility announced that Stage 4 load shedding would be implemented from 05:00 to 16:00 from Tuesday, followed by Stage 5 load shedding between 16:00 and 05:00 from Wednesday.

Several high-profile leaders and major groups say they have no other choice but to take the government, Eskom and Nersa to court over the load shedding crisis.

According to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, South Africa has a plan to improve energy provision that will end the need for any power cuts within the next 12 to 18 months.

He spoke to Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss resort of Davos.

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