President Cyril Ramaphosa load shedding

President Cyril Ramaphosa / GCIS

Ramaphosa on load shedding: Challenges won’t be fixed overnight

The president has tasked Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan with providing regular updates on Eskom’s operational capacity.

President Cyril Ramaphosa load shedding

President Cyril Ramaphosa / GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised to South Africa for the scourge of load shedding which climaxed at Stage 6 on Monday night.

Ramaphosa, who is currently on an official visit to Egypt, faced fierce criticism for the country’s powerless state of affairs, with politicians demanding that the president abandon his state visit and return home to address the crisis head-on.

It’s been a week since Eskom reinitiated rotational load shedding schedules – cutting power from the grid to mitigate a nationwide blackout – following a dire operational downturn, emanating from poor maintenance programs, debilitating financial losses and mismanagement.

Eskom’s load shedding crisis

Eskom as also claimed that adverse weather conditions, particularly torrential rainfall in Limpopo, have led to “wet coal” which struggled to burn at key power stations. On Monday, the utility added that some mines, conveyor belts and power stations had been flooded, leading to the complete operational collapse of the already plagued Medupi Power Plant and ushering in Stage 6 load shedding.

While South Africans have begrudgingly adapted to Stage 2 load shedding, the sudden arrival of Stage 6 – which called for a further 6000MW to be culled from the grid – caused widespread panic and confusion. Ramaphosa, all too aware of the electrical calamity back home, and the condemnation which came with it, was forced to break his silence.

Ramaphosa apologises, says Gordhan is working on it

On Monday, the Presidency issued a statement addressing the seriousness of Eskom’s predicament and apologising to South Africans for the inconvenience and “understandable frustration”.

Ramaphosa said:

“The ongoing load shedding is devastating for the country. It is causing our economy great harm and disrupting the lives of citizens.

Our immediate priority is to get as much generating capacity back on line within the shortest possible time. Eskom’s emergency response command centre and technical teams are working around the clock to fix multiple breakdowns.”

Ramaphosa added that he had been in constant communication with Gordhan and that regular updates and situation reports would be tabled to better assess South Africa’s power position.

Ending load shedding not a ‘quick-fix

The president did, however, note that ending load shedding would not be a “quick-fix” and that South Africa’s electrical challenges were vast and multifaceted.

“The energy challenges in this country will not be resolved overnight. We have set out on a bold path of restructuring and rebuilding. Despite the setbacks of the past week, we are making progress and will steadily begin to see the fruits of these efforts.”

President Cyril Ramaphosa

Gordhan and Eskom’s acting group executive Jabu Mabuza are expected to brief the media on the utility’s position this week.