At a time at which our country is facing an unprecedented electricity crisis – with persistent power cuts being the new normal – President Ramaphosa is obfuscating the truth and refuses to play open cards with the people of South Africa. For a man who has been in charge of turning around Eskom’s fortunes since 2014, he owes South Africa not just an explanation, but the full truth as to the extent of the crisis – including his government’s full plan to deal with this crisis. The time for manufactured “shock” and simple apologies from the President is over.
His appointment of Deputy President David Mabuza to head up the Special Cabinet Committee tasked with handling this crisis shows the sheer lack of capacity within the ANC to urgently and adequately fix this mess. David Mabuza ran Mpumalanga into the ground during his disastrous spell as premier of the province. He shouldn’t be anywhere near a national energy crisis.
The nation urgently requires answers. I have therefore today written to President Cyril Ramaphosa, requesting that he comes clean with the people of South Africa and is fully transparent on the reality of this national crisis.
In particular, Ramaphosa must tell South Africans the following:
- What is the full extent of this crisis?
- What is the total amount of debt owed by Eskom, and what is the timeline on this debt being due to creditors?
- How much foreign denominated debt is due by Eskom in the next two months?
- What is government’s plan of action to mitigate the current damage caused to infrastructure by power outages?
- What is the timeframe of such plan?
- Does government have a disaster management plan in the event that the situation deteriorates any further? and
- If so, what are the full details of this disaster management plan?
The reality is that we can fix this crisis and turn the ship around. The DA will be engaging with all sectors of society on solutions to collectively mitigate the damage caused by power cuts, as well as plans to reform the energy sector in South Africa before it’s too late. It is essential for South Africa to have energy resilience, and for this to happen there are immediate, medium and long-term interventions that are required.
Now is the time for urgent action, no matter how unpopular. During the water crisis in Cape Town the DA faced a choice. We could keep quiet about how serious the problem was, hope that the winter rains would come, and that the majority of people would be no the wiser. Or we could take action to fix the situation and avoid “Day Zero”.
We defeated “Day Zero” because we were honest, made tough and unpopular choices, and vitally, because the people of Cape Town rose spectacularly to the challenge of drought when we asked for their help.
President Ramaphosa ought to follow suit. He should place the national interest ahead of his own political interests and the interests of the ANC, and come clean with the people of South Africa.
Leader of the Democratic Alliance
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