Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has again retreated on the deadline he set at the start of the year that the government would end load-shedding by the end of the year.
In April of this year, shortly after he took office, Ramokgopa said load-shedding could be reduced to stage 3 by September of this year and eliminated by the end of 2023.
However, only a month later, in May, he said it would not be possible to end load-shedding in 2023.
“Yes, I am on record – it doesn’t look possible for us to end load-shedding by the end of the year,” he said.
In June, the minister told eNCA that South Africa would “see significantly reduced load-shedding” before the end of the year and will soon “be saying that load-shedding is behind us”.
In a recent interview with SABC, Ramokgopa said there would be power cuts over the 2023 festive season, though he emphasised that it would be “extremely low” levels of load-shedding.
“What works in our favour is that the energy-intensive users like your large industry firms will be closed, so there’s less demand on the grid,” he explained.
However, he said the utility would also be taking that time to perform planned maintenance and would, therefore, have to shut down some power stations during the festive season.
In the SABC interview, Ramokgopa reportedly reiterated Eskom’s commitment to end load-shedding but did not specify another deadline.
Ramokgopa is but one in a long line of government and Eskom officials who have promised to end load-shedding by a deadline that was never reached.
In May this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that “the end should be in sight soon” for load-shedding, with its severity reducing in the short term.
The President said that Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa is “overseeing the full and speedy implementation of the Energy Action Plan (EAP)” to tackle load-shedding.
The minister is working hard to reduce the severity and frequency of load-shedding immediately and ensure that load-shedding will be “brought to an end in the shortest possible time”.
This follows a promise the President made in 2015, when he was still Deputy President, when he said, “In another 18 months to two years, you will forget the challenges that we had with Eskom”.
Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and former President Jacob Zuma also declared that “load-shedding is history” in 2016.
In April 2019, 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 made his own promise after taking the top job at Eskom.
He told the media that Eskom would “significantly reduce” load-shedding from September 2021.
The former CEO said that the power utility was ramping up its maintenance plans, meaning South Africans would experience more load-shedding in the interim.
“We anticipate the maintenance programme will go on for about a period of 18 months,” he said.
However, what followed were the three worst load-shedding years in the power utility’s history.