Eskom's total breakdowns currently amount to 14 957 megawatt (MW) while planned maintenance is 5 301MW. Picture: Itumeleng English
Eskom's total breakdowns currently amount to 14 957 megawatt (MW) while planned maintenance is 5 301MW. Picture: Itumeleng English

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan takes hard line against Eskom load shedding

By Siphelele Dludla Time of article published Oct 28, 2021

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PUBLIC enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan has taken a hard line against Eskom's poor electricity supply, instructing the board to beef up the power utility with requisite expertise to deal with generation capacity.

This as analysts said yesterday economic growth for the fourth quarter could turn for the worse if the country's energy supply continues to fail to meet demand after Eskom temporarily shut down units at two power stations.

In a tense media briefing yesterday evening, Gordhan said skills were needed at Eskom and must be acquired a lot quicker to help with the deterioration in generation units.

Gordhan said the necessary exemptions will be made by the National Treasury for Eskom to find the right expertise to assist.

“It's clear within Eskom itself that further expertise is required and the board has been instructed this afternoon to take whatever measures necessary in order to bring in necessary expertise to back up the existing management teams at all levels in Eskom, and ensure the proper level of professionalism and of engineering rigour within the Eskom environment,” he said.

Gordhan, however, said that he could assure South Africans that by the weekend there will be no load shedding in the course of the weekend and there will also be no disruptions on Election Day November 1.

Eskom's total breakdowns currently amount to 14 957 megawatt (MW) while planned maintenance is 5 301MW.

Deal Leaders International chief executive Andrew Bahlmann said the move to Stage 4 load shedding would have a direct impact on businesses and the economy, and an indirect impact on productivity, especially for those working from home.

Bahlmann said while larger companies in many cases had made alternative plans with generators or solar power, this still inflated the prices of their goods. “Each consecutive wave of load shedding has less and less impact on society, but the problem for Eskom grows ever bigger as its revenue falls but the cost of maintenance does not, so this too inflates the cost of electricity,” Bahlmann said.

“The direct impact on the economy has been estimated through studies by (energy expert) Chris Yelland and civil society group, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, as between R4 billion and R5bn a day at Stage 4.”

The energy crisis could see the country's growth facing further stunting after a forecast decline of 1.2 percent in the third quarter.

On Monday, Eskom effectively warned the public to brace for more power cuts for the next 10 months to the end of August 2022, as it continued with its fleet maintenance programme.

Eskom's generation fleet has been showing a deterioration rather than an improvement, hence the move to Stage 4 load shedding which was last experienced at the beginning of June.

Anchor Capital's co-chief investment officer, Nolan Wapenaar, said the victim of load shedding would continue to be the small and medium-sized businesses, who could not function in this type of environment.

Wapenaar said it was entirely plausible that some businesses would close, and some jobs will be lost, plunging more families into a poverty trap.

“This is also another damaging blow for confidence in South Africa and both investors and taxpayers will question the sustainability of South Africa and its ability to recover,” Wapenaar said.

“This damage to confidence is far more impactful in the short term than the losses to our economy.”

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