Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Picture: REUTERS
Picture: REUTERS

The ANC has described the current crisis at Eskom, that has seen the power utility invoke a stage four load-shedding for the first time, as "deliberate economic sabotage".

Eskom was forced to shed 4000MW on Monday in order to keep the national grid stable. Load shedding moved from stage two to stage four in mere hours after six additional units went down. 

Monday's events came a few days after President Cyril Ramaphosa,  in his second state of the nation address, confirmed that Eskom would be unbundled into three entities: generation, distribution and transmission.

Unions reacted angrily to the news, but on Monday denied allegations of sabotage. 

Eskom has become highly politicised  and is one of the key state owned companies at the center of the state capture project.   A parliamentary inquiry has found dubious deals involving the controversial Gupta family and former president Jacob Zuma's son, Duduzane under former CE Brian Molefe. The parliamentary inquiry recommended criminal prosecution against those implicated. 

Ramaphosa has sought to clean up the embattled power utility, by appointing a new board and CE. On Monday he is said to have expressed "shock and anger" at at the latest developments at Eskom. Kodwa said this was because he had been receiving positive reports.

The crisis at Eskom comes in an election year, in which the ANC is facing its toughest electoral fight in a general election.

ANC head of the presidency Zizi Kodwa said what happened at Eskom on Monday was an effective "campaign for disinvestment".

"We cannot use candles as we try to grow the economy... the timing of these events are suspicious, given the positive announcement made by the president in his state of the nation address," he said.

Minister of public enterprises Pravin Gordhan was in meetings until the early part of the morning in a bid to resolve the crisis. Kodwa advised Eskom’s leadership to take the public into their confidence only once they are sure of what caused the problem.

marriann@businesslive.co.za.