Cigarette Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa / GCIS

Load shedding: Eskom orders Stage 2 ahead of Ramaphosa meeting

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to rake Eskom over the coals during a crisis meeting this morning.

Cigarette Ramaphosa

President Cyril Ramaphosa / GCIS

Load shedding will continue at Stage 2 on Wednesday 11 December, as announced by Eskom ahead of crisis talks with President Cyril Ramaphosa.

While the embattled power utility has reported ‘progress’ in operational capacity – dropping load shedding schedules from Stage 6 to Stage 2 in under 48 hours – South Africans are unlikely to revel in the reprieve.

Rotational load shedding, implemented to save South Africa’s power grid from complete collapse, was implemented more than a week ago. In that time, citizens have been left to contend with protracted powerlessness, while the country’s economy shudders as a result of Eskom’s glaring incompetence.

Eskom on load shedding crisis: We have made good progress

In addition to disruptions to the daily routine, it’s estimated that rotational cuts have sapped in excess of R20 billion from the South African economy, at a time when the country’s coffers can least afford it. Several mining conglomerates have also shut their doors on local operations, for fear hazardous working environments and a loss of profitability.

On Wednesday morning, after severe power plant failures further decreased generational capacity earlier in the week, Eskom announced that it would drop Stage 4 to Stage 2 load shedding. The utility said in a statement:

“We have made good progress in the recovery from localised flooding at our power stations and have returned several power station units as scheduled. As a result, we have reduced the load shedding stages earlier than scheduled.

The probability for load shedding remains high for the rest of the week.”

Ramaphosa’s return home

This sudden ‘improvement’ comes in the wake of Ramaphosa’s urgent flight back home. The president, who was on a state visit to Egypt, broke his silence on the Eskom crisis earlier this week, after facing fierce criticism from politicians and members of the public. Ramaphosa later announced that he would cut his Egyptian sojourn short and immediately return to South Africa.

According to a statement issued by The Presidency:

“President Cyril Ramaphosa will on Wednesday the 11th of December 2019 meet with the Board and Management of the national power utility Eskom – where he will be briefed on plans to mitigate and resolve the current electricity crisis affecting most of the country.

President Ramaphosa will also visit the operations centre at Eskom headquarters at Megawatt Park in Gauteng.”

On Monday night, while South Africa struggled under the weight of Stage 6 load shedding, Ramaphosa announced that Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan would be tasked with reporting on Eskom’s operational capacity while overseeing the proficiency of the utility’s Emergency Response Command Centre.

It is, at the stage, unclear as to whether Gordhan will join Ramaphosa at Megawatt Park.