Ramaphosa says energy crisis similar to apartheid challenge and will be overcome
President tells Human Rights Day event in Sharpeville that restoring reliable electricity is an urgent priority for the government
President Cyril Ramaphosa likened efforts to fix Eskom, whose financial and operational crisis has been brought about by mismanagement and corruption under his party’s rule, to the struggle against apartheid.
“We will overcome this electricity crisis that is engulfing our country at this moment. We will overcome it just as we overcame the apartheid challenge,” Ramaphosa said at a Human Rights Day event in Sharpeville, Vereeniging, on Thursday.
SA has been engulfed by rolling blackouts over the past few week as stage four load-shedding was introduced by power utility Eskom.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said earlier this week that it could take up to two weeks before the government could determine how long the power outages, which have crippled industry and prompted some economist to revise downwards their their forecasts for economic growth this year, will last.
The load-shedding comes less than two months ahead of the national and provincial elections in which Ramaphosa and the ANC hope to get a fresh mandate from the electorate.
He said the government was putting in place measures which included ensuring the restoration of power lines from the Cahora Bassa Dam that were destroyed by Cyclone Idai, which hit the port of Beira last week and killed more than 200 people in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Thousands others were wounded and displaced.
The SA Defence Force has been deployed to Mozambique to help with the restorative efforts.
Ramaphosa said nobody in SA could deny that remarkable progress has been made since the dawn of democracy in 1994 to provide many with electricity.
The president said despite this SA faced a “severe energy crisis”, which has had a profound impact on the country’s citizens and the economy. He said restoring reliable electricity and ensuring a reliable model for sustainable electricity in the future were urgent priorities.