- President Cyril Ramaphosa has said he has asked Eskom to hold off on the 18.65% tariff increase.
- The power utility was earlier this month granted the tariff increase, amid prolonged bouts of load shedding.
- Ramaphosa was speaking in the Free State on Sunday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa says he has asked Eskom not to implement the 18.65% tariff hike that is due to be enforced by April.
Ramaphosa was giving closing remarks at the ANC’s Free State provincial conference held at the Imvelo Safari lodge in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
The National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) had earlier this month allowed Eskom to increase its tariff on 1 April. The news came as the country suffers extended bouts of load shedding.
The announcement prompted a host of civil society organisations, citizens, small businesses, and opposition political parties to threaten legal action in an effort to ensure that load shedding and the hikes were stopped.
Ramaphosa said: “I have told Eskom that it should consider halting the hiking of electricity prices, especially for now while our people are struggling under high levels of load shedding.”
He reiterated that people were frustrated because their businesses were being put in jeopardy.
“Many people are reporting that their businesses are failing because of load shedding,” said Ramaphosa. He added that the government had not been idle but had been making every attempt to resolve the crisis.
“As I have said in the address to the nation, we are short of some 6 000 megawatts. We have been working very hard; we put in place an action plan which I announced last year in July, and the process of adding more capacity with various measures, be it renewable energy or even emergency energy, has been under way,” said Ramaphosa.
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Outlining the undertakings by his administration to address this crisis, Ramaphosa said the government was tackling the problem on many fronts.
"To reduce those stages of load shedding with the various interventions that we are putting in place, the interventions that I announced in July are taking effect.
"We are now even making sure that there is sufficient diesel to power our two diesel power stations where we can get more power, more megawatts to be brought onto the system while those power stations that have been taken out for maintenance and repair are brought back one by one so that we can then have power,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa maintained that Eskom’s historic inadequate maintenance and delayed investment in building new power stations had led to South Africa reaching an energy crisis the country should never have faced.
“Eskom’s historic inadequate maintenance and delayed investment in building new power stations is the main cause of why we are where we are.
"We have load shedding, which understandably is making the people of South Africa angry, making the people of South Africa frustrated, and it's negatively impacting the livelihoods of our people, the health of our people, the food production in our country, and hurting the economy,” said Ramaphosa.
He added that “it’s been a combination of several issues that have brought us to where we are”.
“What we are doing is to address the problem, to reduce the load shedding. We reached a point where we got to stage 6 load shedding, which is what has made our people very angry, and I understand that. I do take that in and say it should have never reached the point where it has reached, but we are now working it down,” said Ramaphosa.