President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africans should see the current stage 6 load-shedding in a positive light as it is “short-term pain for longer-term gain”.
On Monday, Eskom announced that stage 6 load-shedding would be implemented until further notice.
Eskom said the increased load-shedding was necessary due to an increase in planned maintenance and the loss of two generating units.
“Overnight, a further two units at Lethabo and Matla power stations will need to be shut down for urgent repairs,” Eskom said.
“Breakdowns are currently at 16,210MW of generating capacity while the capacity out of service for planned maintenance is 5,894MW.”
Stage 6 load-shedding has a devastating effect on the economy and puts strain on already-struggling consumers.
However, Ramaphosa tried to put a positive spin on the increased power cuts during an interview on Tuesday.
“The load-shedding that we are going through now is occasioned by what Eskom is having to do to reposition the generation of our fleet,” he said.
“They are maintaining our fleet. They are making sure that incidents of load-shedding that have been given rise to in the past because of unplanned load-shedding events like breakdowns are put behind us.”
He added that the more intense load-shedding will not last. “This, as much as it is stage 6, is of a short-term nature,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the minister of electricity has briefed him thoroughly about the processes that Eskom is going through. “There is short-term pain for longer-term gain,” he said.
The President further urged South Africans to see the current process and the subsequent stage 6 load-shedding in a positive light.
“We are obviously worried when there is load-shedding, but as we go through this process now, we must see it in a positive light because, in the long term, these are things we have to do to say goodbye to load-shedding,” he said.
History of broken promises
With a general election around the corner with load-shedding a central theme, it is unsurprising that Ramaphosa is trying to put a positive spin on more intense load-shedding.
However, many South Africans have lost trust in The President as it is nothing they have not heard before.
He told the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) in September 2015 that load-shedding would be over by September 2017 at the latest.
“In another 18 months to two years, you will forget the challenges that we had with relation to power or energy and Eskom ever existed,” he said.
However, load-shedding intensified after September 2017 and became a permanent feature in the country over the last year.
This did not deter Ramaphosa from continuing to write cheques he could not cash regarding Eskom and load-shedding.
In early December 2019, Ramaphosa told the nation that Eskom management had promised there would be no load-shedding over the holiday period.
“Between the 17 December leading into January, we will be able to have no load-shedding,” Ramaphosa said.
However, load-shedding returned during this period, which showed that Ramaphosa’s promises should not be taken as guaranteed.
Many others, including former Eskom CEOs and cabinet ministers, have also made unfulfilled promises regarding load-shedding.
For example, former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and former President Jacob Zuma also declared that “load-shedding is history” in 2016.
In April 2019, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan also said there would be “no more load-shedding from today”. Load-shedding was reintroduced in October of that year.
Former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said that Eskom would “significantly reduce” load-shedding from September 2021.
However, after September 2021, load-shedding intensified, and the country experienced the worst load-shedding ever.