The Democratic Alliance (DA) has called for a declaration of a state of emergency on Eskom and the energy sector in the country.
DA leader John Steenhuisen addressed the public in a press conference on Tuesday, where he criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ANC-led government for its lack of urgency in implementing the energy response plan.
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State of disaster
With the country currently experiencing stage 5 load shedding, Steenhuisen said government needed to appoint independent experts to oversee the implementation of their response to the electricity crisis.
“In addition to appointing this outside expert whose sole focus must be the recovery of our electricity supply, there are a number of additional steps which the DA has already called for on numerous occasions that still need to be put in place,” he said during the virtual media briefing.
He also called for a declaration of a state of disaster on Eskom.
“This will allow for the circumvention of the current stifling web of legislation that prevents the acquisition of additional power from Independent Power Producers [IPPs],” he continued.
In July, media reports suggested that the ANC would declare state of emergency after the party’s national executive committee (NEC) received a report from Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
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The report was said to have contained details on the state of the energy grid, however, the Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) later dismissed these claims.
Meanwhile, Steenhuisen also called for Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, to be sacked.
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“It is incomprehensible that he has managed to remain in this crucial position despite his multiple failures.
“He is responsible for the dysfunctional regulatory framework that has prevented our energy sector’s recovery, he has repeatedly blocked renewable energy projects, and he has allowed the Risk Mitigation Power Producer Procurement Programme to stall,” he said.
The DA leader added that an ad-hoc committee must be established to look into the energy crisis, saying “Parliament cannot be a spectator at a time like this”.
‘This is the Eskom we inherited’
Speaking to Newzroom Afrika, Gordhan said government was working to stabilise the country’s power supply, with Cabinet reportedly set to meet on Wednesday, following Ramaphosa’s return to the country.
“We really regret the way in which our energy provision that is coming from Eskom is upsetting both our households and the economy. But this is the Eskom we inherited, this is the Eskom we’re trying to fix very hard,” he said.
Gordhan said the energy response plan announced by Ramaphosa two months ago was beginning to unfold
On Monday, Eskom launched three power purchase programmes that will see it procuring 1 000 megawatts (MW) of power for the national grid on an expedited basis.
READ MORE: Load Shedding: ‘Mantashe must shoulder blame’ for Eskom’s woes
“We will have energy security in South Africa within the next year or so and that will improve every year thereafter. We admit that we are going through a bad patch, but we want to overcome that as soon as possible,” the minister continued.
According to the DPE, Eskom has already enlisted the help of 18 former employees and experts to assist in the execution of its power plant operations.
Meanwhile, Gordhan also responded to calls for his removal from office in which he said: “When one’s conscious is clear that one has done the best one can, in any particular job one finds oneself, then one can sleep in absolute peace and I have a very good sleep every night although I work very hard during the day and part of the night as well.
“I have served South Africa for over 50 years in many different capacities and I intend to do so until I retire.”