South African opposition blames state capture for load shedding


South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on Monday blamed state capture for the resumption of load shedding that is currently gripping South Africa.

Since last week, South Africa has been plunged into darkness due to load shedding implemented by the state-run electricity utility Eskom which provides more than 95 percent of electricity consumed in the country.

Eskom attributed the load shedding to industrial action by Eskom workers who demand wage increases up to 15 percent. But cash-strapped Eskom simply cannot afford this unrealistic wage increase.

The utility said on Monday it will take 10 days for the national power grid to recover from the effects of the strike action.

Although the current load shedding has been exacerbated by the industrial action, the reality is that the years of mismanagement at Eskom lies at the root of this crisis, DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises, Natasha Mazzone said at a press conference in Parliament.

“Load shedding is the direct result of state capture,” Mazzone emphasized.

For years, under the watchful eye of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), ineffective executives streamlined dodgy contracts for the benefit of the Indian Gupta family, Mazzone said.

Eskom, along with some other state-owned enterprises, has been accused of collaborating with the Guptas, who allegedly keep close ties with former President Jacob Zuma, in looting from the state coffers through the awarding lucrative contracts to the controversial family, known as state capture.

“As a result, ordinary South Africans are now left to bear the brunt of this mismanagement,” Mazzone said, adding that in the end, poor South Africans are the biggest losers and the entire economy is at risk.

Instead of bringing about tangible change at Eskom, South Africa has seen the power utility stumble from one crisis to another, Mazzone said.

Mazzone accused the ANC of using Eskom as its own cash-cow by bloating the utility’s middle-management from 80 to over 400 people.

President Cyril Ramaphosa admitted over the weekend that governance across the country has failed due to the ANC’s inability to meet citizen’s expectations.

“If we cannot secure an uninterrupted power supply, not only do we run the risk of losing jobs, but we will not be able to create jobs for the 9.5 million unemployed South Africans,” Mazzone said.

The South African economy contracted by 2.2 percent in the first quarter of this year, and this will have a direct impact on investor confidence, said Mazzone.

The current load shedding is reminiscent of the frequent blackouts that seriously affected economic activities and people’s lives between 2014 and 2015.

Eskom implements load shedding as a last resort to protect the national system from a total blackout which would have significant impact on the economic development of South Africa.

South Africa has suffered from power insufficiency since 2008. Power cuts, which have cost the economy an estimated 300 billion rand (about 23 billion U.S. dollars) since 2008, again become commonplace between 2014 and 2015 after two coal-burning major power stations broke down. Enditem

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