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POWER CRISIS

As Stage 6 hits, Pravin Gordhan could be next through the swing doors

As Stage 6 hits, Pravin Gordhan could be next through the swing doors
Illustrative image: Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. (Photo: Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg via Getty Images). Electrical transmission pylons silhouetted at sunrise in Saulsville township, Pretoria. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Presidency fears the electricity crisis is part of a destabilisation plan ahead of the ANC’s elective conference.

As the ANC conference at Nasrec outside Johannesburg was set to begin on Friday morning, the country was plunged into Stage 6 power cuts as the grid frizzled. Eight units went down overnight (15 December) and emergency diesel stocks ran low again.

At the same time, the Hawks raided coal yards in eMalahleni, Mpumalanga, which are at the epicentre of coal swaps that have hobbled Eskom. South African Police Service General Shadrack Sibiya headed the raid.

A senior source in the Presidency said they suspected that the power crisis, which has seen South Africa drop to Stage 6 several times this year, was manufactured.

“(They) expected to bury the President,” said the person who did not want to be quoted, referring to the party’s elective conference. Instead, Ramaphosa received a high majority of branch nominations to run for a second term as party president.

The source referred to factional party interests who want Ramaphosa out. “We are looking at single-unit outages. We are slowly arresting saboteurs,” said the source.

Stage 6 power cuts were like a lightning strike to Ramaphosa’s reputation. “At Stage 6, no one is interested. If people don’t have lights (they get angry),” he said.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Those Mantashe remarks and an ‘untenable’ situation – De Ruyter reveals why he had to leave Eskom  

Party spokesperson Pule Mabe said on Friday at Nasrec that nothing would be allowed to collapse the conference. Eskom CEO André de Ruyter has quit and will leave at the end of March 2023, after the party’s NEC complained bitterly about rolling blackouts which have been the worst yet in 2022. 

According to this video, ANC treasurer and acting secretary-general Paul Mashatile also called for De Ruyter’s head.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has not been nominated to the party’s national executive committee. Without this political blue tick it will be difficult for him to push through further Eskom reforms. He could be next through the swing doors as he and Mantashe have been locked into increasingly acrimonious positions. 

Mark Swilling outlined the divisions here and showed how De Ruyter was sacrificed. In 2017, Gordhan was much more popular and ranked 25 on the NEC. (The NEC comprises 86 members, and specialist skills can be co-opted). But since then, energy interests organised around coal and other fossil fuels have gained ground in the ANC. 

Gordhan is regarded as a “renewable” term for the Ramaphosa faction of the party whom many want to rout. Gordhan (73) has long said he wants to retire. Efforts to obtain comment from Gordhan were not successful at the time of publication. DM

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  • christo o says:

    “A senior source in the Presidency said they suspected that the power crisis, which has seen South Africa drop to Stage 6 several times this year, was manufactured.”

    This would require a remarkable feat of foresight, planning and execution spanning more than 2 decades, with a high degree of complexity and involving a vast network of organisations and people.

    The claim comes from an organisation who cannot start on time with an event that involves less than 10 thousand people and is fairly simple to arrange – not in the least, it should be said, because it did not have to be arranged and executed covertly.

    • andries . says:

      The way I read it wasn’t that it referred to the current, general state of brokenness in Eskom, but rather to the increased levels of load shedding leading up to the conference. There have been a few single unit trips, and given Eskom’s precarious nature, you need very few of them. Just to odd bag load of coal here, a misplaced drainage plug or such and we need to bump a stage. The kind of thing easily executed by a few bad apples.

    • Steve Stevens says:

      Well said. If they can’t even start their own congress on time what hope is there for Eskom, Prasa, Transnet and all the rest.

  • R S says:

    Here’s what CR’s plan should be:

    1) Get re-elected president of the ANC
    2) Then get rid of PG, get rid of Gwede, and reunite the Department of Energy with Eskom
    3) Get a renewables minister and put them in charge of the Department of Energy

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    Eskom has to have an internal capacity through its internal risk processes to b able to investigate operational risks including sabotage because police are not engineers and cannot smell sabotage unless competent engineers point out the matter. The Eskom Board and Executives require an audit of the staff, operation of the company, power stations managers, contractors and the entire supply chain management with a clear analysis of what each supplies as the DA would put it, which contractors benefit from the blackouts. A very clear strategy to deal with the issues in each power stations behind the “tripping” and the coal with stones has to be put into place and a clear maintainence plan that is well costed as well as retrofitting costs of old power stations. A generation build has to be put in place instead of the R350 to buy votes because that money can resolve the generation issues. As Rex Tillerson of Mobil Exxon said if you have everything as priority then there are no priorities. We need one voice from the epileptic government of Ramaphosa on what is the plan to ensure blackouts will be a thing of the past and it must be measurable.

    • Peter Oosthuizen says:

      Quite correct – a great oportunity to appoint McKinsey and Co.

      From “Syndrome” Mbeki to “Nyati” Ramaphosa we have been subjected to useless individuals at the mercy of the thieves of the ANC

      • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

        An organisation like Eskom has to have these tools of analysis in house and in fact it must be part of the reports of management that feed into the company operational report. An external company ironically has to get information from the company itself to be able to provide advice. As a matter of routine, all operational risks have to be listed from the history of the company and future prognosis. The state of all engineering components and their age analysis and life has to be at the fingertips of managers. It is not rocket science.

  • Peter Oosthuizen says:

    Amadla! = Power!
    No electricity = No power
    Did anyone actually pay for Mashatile’s T shirt?

  • Kerry van Schalkwyk says:

    Gordhan has encouraged the destruction of this country by his continual, non-sensical support of dying SOE’s, based on his communist beliefs – all state resources to be centralised & control of the masses by the ANC. He is way past his sell-by date & should’ve been kicked out years ago.

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