President Cyril Ramaphosa has cut short his official visit to Egypt amid the ongoing load shedding crisis.
Ramaphosa will meet the management team at state power utility Eskom on Wednesday, the Presidency also confirmed.
Eskom is currently implementing stage 4 load shedding nationwide after escalating it to an unprecedented stage 6 on Monday.
It blamed a number of factors for the crisis, including flooding at Kriel power station and a technical fault at the new Medupi power station.
Ramaphosa will now miss the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development Conference, which is slated for Wednesday.
However, he held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on Tuesday “which were aimed at strengthening and deepening our bilateral relations.”
The President came under severe criticism for going ahead with the visit after Eskom announced the escalation to stage 6.
‘Wrong to have left the country’
Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen called on the President to return home to deal with the crisis.
Speaking to the media outside Eskom’s headquarters in Johannesburg on Tuesday, Steenhuisen said Ramaphosa was wrong to have left the country before dealing with the matter.
He said, “Ramaphosa is greatly mistaken if he thinks he can run a country and manage this crisis via a cell phone. This requires bold leadership, not platitudes.”
“The devastating effect of these blackouts on industry, retail, growth and jobs constitutes a clear and present danger to our economic well-being.”
Before his departure on Monday, Ramaphosa said the government is on a “bold path of rebuilding and restructuring” Eskom.
He added, “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.”
UPDATE: It has since emerged that Ramaphosa received news of stage 6 load shedding after he had already left the country for Egypt.
EWN quoted Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko saying, “Having received it after he departed South Africa, he is expected to receive a full briefing on measures to mitigate the electricity crisis.”