The following remarks were delivered today by Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, outside Eskom’s Megawatt Park in Sandton, Johannesburg. Maimane was joined by DA Gauteng Premier Candidate, Solly Msimanga, and Team One SA Spokesperson on State Capture, Natasha Mazzone.
My fellow South Africans,
Today we are here outside Eskom’s HQ, Megawatt Park, to stand with the people South Africa and echo their anger at this government’s failure to provide a basic service to the nation. It is a complete failure of governance that has brought the country to the brink of collapse, with level 5 and 6 loadshedding and nationwide electricity blackouts the new normal. While the ANC may predictably look for anything but themselves to point fingers at, this national emergency will never be the collective responsibility of the people of South Africa. This energy crisis has been the sole responsibility of the ANC and the ANC alone for over a decade.
What has become clear over the past days is that there is no plan to fix this mess. From the President, to the Minister of Public Enterprises, to those at Eskom. No plan and no political will to take immediate action to get our country out of this ANC-created crisis. We cannot accept this any longer. The ANC broke Eskom, the ANC allowed it to be captured, and the ANC now has no plan to fix this crisis.
A simple apology from President Ramaphosa is not good enough. We demand action! Because if we don’t act now, the power utility will never service the hundreds of billions it owes in debt, the almost dozen units lost will never be recovered, the coal supply will never be augmented, the institutional staff experience lost will never be replaced and the entity will implode.
As South Africans, we must take a collective stand before it is too late.
That is why today we announce our plan to launch a National Day of Action next Friday 29 March. We call on South Africans in every community, town and city across the country, to join us in a collective protest against what is now a national crisis. As when we came together to take a stand against Jacob Zuma and the capture of our state, next Friday will see citizens showing this ANC government that we have the power. The time is now – we will not sit back and watch our country implode at the hands of this failing ANC government.
This National Day of Action will include civil society groups, NGOs, religious bodies, community activist organisations and the nation at large. Our call is for this ANC government to get off its hands and take real action.
There is a way to fix this mess. We could immediately:
- Privatise the generation entities of Eskom, allowing a diverse range of energy to enter the grid, increasing competition and lowering costs;
- Instruct Eskom to immediately freeze the build on the last two outstanding units at Kusile, and instead look to bring on more IPPs to provide power. Eskom’s debt is spiralling due to cost overruns on the two big coal builds, while the units are not running at full capacity due to design and build flaws;
- Reaffirm Eskom’s engineering and maintenance employees as an “essential service” that cannot enter into strike action;
- Install major smart meters for municipalities to force municipalities to collect revenue timeously; and
- Allow well-functioning metros to source energy directly from independent energy suppliers.
Part of this plan is to pass the Independent System Market Operator (ISMO) Bill into law. The ISMO Bill seeks to open up the market, enable private sector investment and increase efficiency by finally splitting up Eskom into generation entity that can be privatised and a transmission entity to be operated by the state. This will in turn enable Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to connect to the grid and open up competition that has been starved from the energy market for too long. Currently, 85% of all municipalities in the Western Cape now have legislation in place to buy and sell alternative sustainable energy such as solar while the party remains locked in litigation with the ANC government over the right to buy and sell energy directly from IPPs.
In the immediate term, some of the proactive interventions taken by DA-led governments to mitigate against the risk of loadshedding include maintenance work, increasing strategic policing deployments and litigation. In Cape Town, our government has instructed maintenance work at Steenbras Power station to continue adding energy to the grid and across our governments maintenance has been assigned to the grid network to mitigate against surges when power is turned on and off and additional Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) deployments have been placed at busy intersections during loadshedding to cushion the impact on traffic.
The message is clear: there is a plan and we need to institute this plan now. And we will mobilise next Friday to call on this ANC government to take the action required to fix this national crisis.
South Africa needs this change, and we need it now. And I urge every citizen who loves this country to join this National Day of Action so that we can usher in change and save our nation from the brink of collapse.