The number of so-called service-delivery protests in South Africa — demonstrations over the failure of municipalities to provide services such as electricity and water — may reach a new annual record.
The country is suffering its worst-ever electricity blackouts, and patience is fraying over the deterioration of municipal services, leading to 122 protests in the first six months of the year.
At that rate, this year may overtake the 237 incidents of 2018, dwarfing the lull during the pandemic years.
“Over the last 10 years, protests have become increasingly violent and lawless,” according to Kevin Allan, the managing director of Municipal IQ, which tracks the performance of South Africa’s municipalities.
This comes as Eskom increased the number of scheduled outages because of delays in returning generating units to services and breakdowns at five other plants.
So-called load-shedding is being increased to stage 5 — in which 5,000 megawatts are removed from the grid — until 5 a.m. on Tuesday, Eskom said in a statement published on Twitter on Monday.
Thereafter, stage 4 load-shedding will be implemented until further notice, it said.
South African Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa is “worried and extremely upset” about delays in returning a unit of the Koeberg nuclear power plant to service, the Daily Maverick reported
Unit 1 at Koeberg, which generates 920 megawatts of power, has been offline since December for planned maintenance, refuelling and life-extension works and was meant to return to service 10 weeks ago, the Johannesburg-based news website said.
The delay in returning the unit to operation “presents the real danger of the overlap between the delayed return of Unit 1 and also the taking out of Unit 2,” it quoted Ramokgopa as saying.
Unit 2, which also generates 920 megawatts, is scheduled to go offline for refurbishment in September, it said.
South African power-project developer G7 Renewable Energies is seeking to block new rules governing the connection of plants to the national electricity grid, saying they are flawed and will impair the addition of more generation capacity.
Eskom said in June it had introduced the so-called Interim Grid Capacity Allocation Rules to avoid the “hogging” of grid capacity and ensure only so-called shovel-ready projects are allocated capacity. That was after private generation projects were sidelined, in part because of a lack of connections to the grid.
Eskom cancelled coal-supply agreements and construction contracts valued at R11 billion as the South African authorities crack down on crime at the state-owned utility, President Cyril Ramaphosa said.
Litigation by Eskom has also had coal-supply agreements worth R3.7 billion declared invalid, while other coal and construction deals worth R10 billion have been set aside, Ramaphosa said in response to a question from an opposition lawmaker.