Army helped to reduce load-shedding – for R250 million

Defence Minister Thandi Modise said the South African National Defence Force’s (SANDF) deployment at Eskom has positively contributed towards reducing load-shedding.

In an oral reply to a Parliamentary question, Modise said the deployment of the SANDF has enabled Eskom to repair, maintain and secure power stations.

The deployment has, furthermore, “positively contributed towards reducing load-shedding and enabled the government to continue to work towards stabilising and increasing the Energy Action Plan”.

The SANDF has been deployed to Eskom to secure critical infrastructure since 16 December 2022 on the instruction of President Cyril Rampahosa.

This deployment forms part of ‘Operation Prosper’, first launched in 2021 in collaboration with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to keep law and order during the 2021 July riots.

The operation was launched again in December 2022 when soldiers were deployed to four power stations to protect them from criminals.

This deployment cost taxpayers R146 million. It equates to R165,909 per soldier or R27,651 per soldier per month.

The operation was extended last year when Ramaphosa wrote to the head of the National Council of Provinces to inform them that 880 SANDF members would be deployed to help protect Eskom’s assets for six months.

The cost of the extended deployment is estimated to be R111 million, or R125,000 per soldier. 

According to the President’s latest notice, 880 members are now deployed for operation between 18 October 2023 and 31 March 2024.

Modise said this deployment was “necessitated by the acts of theft and vandalism which contributed to the energy shortages, which adversely affected livelihoods, the economy and the standing of the country”.

However, she said the deployment had increased the department’s reserve force man-days and resulted in a further increase in the cost of employment budget.

“This matter has been discussed, and hopefully, the Department of Defence will get reimbursed or refunded by the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) through the assistance of National Treasury.”


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