'Unparalleled incompetence': Political parties react to stage 6 load-shedding

09 December 2019 - 19:26
By Andisiwe Makinana
Political parties have slammed Eskom after SA was plunged into stage 6 load-shedding on Monday.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER Political parties have slammed Eskom after SA was plunged into stage 6 load-shedding on Monday.

"Nothing signals crisis and chaos more than the current situation of load-shedding."

This is according to IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa, who was speaking in the wake of Eskom's decision to implement stage 6 load-shedding for the first time.

Political reactions started flooding in on Monday evening after Eskom announced stage 6 rotational blackouts from 6pm. It did not announce if and when it would be downgraded again.

The utility claimed the escalation to stage 6 is "no cause for alarm as the system is being effectively controlled" - but politicians clearly disagree.

Hlengwa told TimesLIVE: "We are in dire straits. Clearly, Eskom has collapsed. The economy and South Africans are casualties of a poorly run entity. We have every reason to be concerned."

Just minutes after Eskom's announcement on Monday, the presidency revealed that President Cyril Ramaphosa and several key ministers would be leaving the country on Tuesday for a state visit to Egypt.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa needed to cancel the trip due to the Eskom crisis.

"This evening’s announcement that Eskom will implement unprecedented stage 6 rolling blackouts across South Africa is devastating news for our already struggling economy and fatal to both economic growth and job creation," he said.

"Given the gravity of the situation, the time for platitudes from President Ramaphosa and dithering from energy minister Gwede Mantashe is long past. The country is asking what exactly is going on, and we deserve full transparency on this threat to national stability. 

"In these extraordinary circumstances, we call for parliament to urgently be reconvened in order for President Ramaphosa to address parliament and the nation on this escalating crisis. The president must come clean on exactly what the structural problems at Eskom are and how his government plans to address them within the coming days.

"In this light, the president should swiftly postpone his upcoming international trip to Egypt, scheduled for December 10. There is severe trouble at home, and Ramaphosa must attend to that ahead of all other engagements."

Steenhuisen added that SA needed to plan for a "post-Eskom future".

"The announcement of stage 6 rolling blackouts for the first time in our history is a strong signal that Eskom is on its knees. The time for dithering is over: we demand the president urgently provides the nation with a full report."

EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi described the rise to stage 6 as a complete failure of the Ramaphosa administration “in a general plot to privatise Eskom”.

“With this amount of total collapse, it is much easier to sell power generation and have Eskom simply distribute. This will be followed by job cuts and a massive hike in electricity prices," he said.

The UDM's Nqabayomzi Kwankwa said the move to stage 6 showed that the ANC and Eskom had "reached unparalleled levels of incompetence and maladministration".

"The implementation of stage 6 makes a mockery of all attempts - the investment conference included - to grow the SA economy. Without a doubt, the SA economy is now heading for recession and the ANC government is to blame for it," he said.

Kwankwa was also critical of the timing of load-shedding. "This also comes across as an attempt by this government to blackmail into agreeing to its planned unbundling and privatisation of Eskom," he said.