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