The Democratic Alliance (DA) has launched a campaign to “free South Africans from Eskom” in the wake of stage 4 load shedding.
DA MPs Ghaleb Cachalia and Kevin Mileham announced the campaign, dubbed “Power to the People,” at a press conference outside Parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Cachalia said, “South Africa’s future hangs in the balance, and one way to stop our decline is to cut Eskom loose. It is for this reason that the DA this week began a nationwide effort to free South Africans from Eskom.”
‘Break Eskom’s monopoly’
In its latest update on Wednesday, Eskom said its ageing power stations are “constrained, unpredictable and vulnerable,” which means it often has to implement load shedding at short notice due to frequent breakdowns.
On Tuesday, it escalated load shedding from stage 2 to stage 4 after disconnecting Koeberg nuclear power station’s Unit 1 following a “trip.”
The power utility is also struggling financially with a debt of over R450 billion. Mileham and Cachalia said as a result of these challenges, Eskom “poses the single biggest risk to our economy.”
They called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to “stand up to the unions and internal African National Congress (ANC) factions and do the right thing to break Eskom’s monopoly.”
‘Consider Mantashe’s future as Minister’
Mileham added, “The President should seriously consider Minister [Gwede] Mantashe’s future as Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, as it is evident that he has no interest in ensuring an energy diverse South Africa.
“He is a major stumbling block, continues to delay important steps to ensure energy security and is sitting on his hands.”
The two MPs called for the breakup of Eskom into two entities as the first step towards full or partial privatisation.
They appealed to Mantashe to immediately allow municipalities to purchase electricity from independent power producers in line with Ramaphosa’s commitment in the State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Mileham and Cachalia also called on the ANC government to oppose labour federation COSATU’s proposal to use pension funds to “bail” out Eskom.
They added, “DA councillors and members of provincial legislatures and Parliament will lead intensive engagement efforts in every community around South Africa.
“Once we have the full support of all South Africans for our plan and demands, we will take our fight to the President.”