EDITORIAL: ‘Shocked’ Ramaphosa can no longer dither on hard Eskom decisions

President Cyril Ramaphosa says he was “shocked and surprised” when Eskom implemented Stage 6 load shedding this week. 

That makes Ramaphosa the only person in the republic to be shocked about Eskom’s inability to keep the power grid stable. South Africa hasn’t had a stable power utility since the mid 2000s, when former public enterprises minister Alec Erwin blamed a loose bolt at Koeberg power station for the country’s electricity woes.

Ramaphosa has correctly diagnosed ageing technology, poor maintenance and a decade of plunder as the main reasons behind Eskom’s demise. Sabotage by criminal Eskom employees allegedly contributed to an extra loss of 2 000 megawatts this week.

The question all South Africans want Ramaphosa to answer is: “What are you going to do about it and by when?”

Other than promising no load shedding between December 17 and January 13, the president was non-committal on timelines for the normalisation of the grid.

He said options of adding extra capacity through floating power plants and the self-generation of electricity by mines and private companies will be discussed by Cabinet on Friday.

There is no more time for discussion on this. It’s a no-brainer that private companies who can should be allowed to generate their own electricity and add additional capacity to the grid. 

And Ramaphosa will simply have to find the funding to add an additional 5 000 megawatts to the grid to stabilise electricity supply in the country. 

If he doesn’t do this as a matter of urgency, the rest of South Africa will justifiably be “shocked”.

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