Electricity Minister Kgosientso Ramakgopa said Stage 6 power cuts would continue almost indefinitely, given Eskom’s deteriorating performance and increased demand.
The minister made these comments during an update to the media on the implementation of South Africa’s Energy Action Plan (EAP) on Friday.
The EAP has been the government’s official plan to end load-shedding since June last year. However, it has not had any tangible impact on the energy crisis.
“These unplanned outages resulted in Eskom being forced to implement Stage 6, and as Eskom’s communication has been saying, it is Stage 6 almost indefinitely,” he said.
Ramokgopa’s comments come as part of his aim to make the government’s actions about the energy crisis more transparent.
From the beginning of his tenure as electricity minister, he said, “I am going to be open, transparent, and brutally honest with the South African public”.
He said this transparency would be clear to the African National Congress (ANC) when he presented his action plan to end load-shedding.
The ANC has “seen it fit that it must elevate the conversation around the energy crisis” among both government and the public. Ramokgopa’s transparency with the public is part of these efforts.
He said that the government owes it to South Africans to be more transparent about its efforts to end load-shedding and what the situation is.
All talk and no action
Energy expert and professor at UCT, Hilton Trollip, said that the electricity minister’s update to the media was all talk and no action.
He told ENCA that there was no concrete action that the minister could point to that the government had taken to reduce load-shedding either by increasing supply or reducing demand.
Trollip referred to Ramokgopa as a “PR expert”, explaining that the minister did his PhD in public relations and has proven to be very eloquent in front of the media.
Any objective analysis shows that there has been no substantial action on “what was a really good plan from the President”.
The President announced the Energy Action Plan in June of last year, and a year later, it has been “all talk and no action”, according to Trollip.
Ramokgopa did announce one new initiative – the Land Bank’s funding programme to assist farmers with backup power solutions.
However, this will have no material impact on load-shedding.
Worryingly for Trollip has been the lack of action taken to combat corruption at Eskom, which, for him, is the root cause of load-shedding and the utility’s underperformance.
He said it is going to be a long, dark winter for South Africans, with Eskom continuing its slow degradation.