High loadshedding stages 'temporary', as government assures it has measures to tackle blackouts

14th September 2023 By: News24Wire

 High loadshedding stages 'temporary', as government assures it has measures to tackle blackouts

Photo by: Reuters

Cabinet has been given the assurance that the current higher stages of loadshedding are temporary.

This is according to Minister in the Presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni, who said Cabinet had extensive meetings focusing on the country's energy crisis.

On Thursday, she presented the Cabinet's decisions following a meeting held on Wednesday.

"Cabinet is assured that the increases in loadshedding are indeed temporary. There are clear plans for when additional capacity will come through. There is the return to service of Kusile units 1 to 4. There is also additional work being done. But, Cabinet is assured that, in terms of the measures being taken, the increase in loadshedding stages is indeed a temporary measure," she said.

Ntshavheni also said that government was confident in its ability to resolve loadshedding, adding that it remains on top of the matter.

More than 45% of Eskom's power generation capacity is offline, with unplanned breakdowns at power plants alone taking 16 200MW from the grid. At the start of winter, Eskom saw a record outage of more than 50%, which pushed South Africa the closest ever to stage 8 loadshedding.

Last week, the brand-new Medupi Power station was hit by a chain break underneath one of its boilers. The chain forms part of a system called a "submerged scraper conveyor", which removes coal ash from the bottom of the boilers.

Units at the Arnot, Duvha and Grootvlei power stations also broke down, while continued problems at the Kendal, Matla and Matimba stations prevented their out-of-order units from returning.

Regarding the government's cash crunch, Ntshavheni said Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana would issue guidelines on cost containment measures.

"We do not want to create the impression that there is a crisis in South Africa and that the country is going to collapse. South Africa is not going to collapse," she said.

The budget cuts, which affect all government departments, are being led by Godongwana, who is driving efforts to get a grip on runaway spending in a way that sustains the R350 Social Relief of Distress grant beyond 2024.

Furthermore, Ntshavheni said there were no government programmes the Cabinet was looking at cutting.

"We are also clear on that the priorities [which] have been agreed to between the president, deputy president and ministers won't be affected. Individual ministers will engage with both the president and the deputy president as part of the in-year performance review," she said.

Ntshavheni added: "We have acknowledged that there are inefficiencies within the system that, if improved, can – in the short, medium and long term – bring serious improvements to the budget. The current fiscal constraints are not domestic, they are global and therefore we cannot just plan for the short term. We don't have control over the external factors causing the fiscal constraints. This is not unique to South Africa."

She added that Cabinet had resolved that the economic infrastructure and development cluster must come up with a plan on how to mitigate the impact of the high cost of living on poor South Africans.