Jacob Maroga says IPPs and load-shedding are not going to solve Eskom’s problem. – Photo by Foto24/Gallo Images/Getty Images

By Thabang Mbulase

The more the blackouts – load reduction, rolling blackouts or whatever it is called these days –
are experienced by the humble and obedient citizens of Loadsheddingland, the more it seems
the government and its power utility, Eskom, are emboldened to keep the lights off.
As the load-shedding stages get heavier, people are also getting worried. Some are actually
scared out there.
The government and Eskom seem to have an upper hand in this matter, judging by the
“understanding” of the people on the ground. They have reached a stage where they have
accepted that it is okay to live without electricity for two hours or more. They just shrug their
shoulders and go on with their miserable lives as though nothing has happened. People have
stopped being shocked.
There are times when electricity disappears for days on end without any explanation, even
from the pathological liars who speak on behalf of the power utility, who under ordinary
circumstances, are able to cook up all sorts of excuses without thinking twice.
The painful part is that, according to some energy experts, analysts or those who have
powerful knowledge in these matters, South Africa does not need to have blackouts.
They say there is enough capacity in the country to keep the lights on without using the
outdated method of candles and paraffin.
Engineer and former Eskom Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO), Matshela Koko, is one
such expert who believes we can do without load-shedding.
In an interview with The Telegram, Koko said people are getting what they have voted for.
He said “definitely” the silence of the people emboldens those in power to treat us this way as
far as electricity is concerned.
Koko said: “Ordinary South Africans have their votes to rely on. I don’t see why ordinary
South Africans should continue to vote for a government that consistently fails to keep the
lights on.”
He said, “the government is overwhelmed and out of its depth”.
Asked whether we would reach a stage where there will be no electricity for the whole day,
he said: “Having no electricity for the whole day would be Stage 8 and beyond.
“I had never thought that we could get to Stage 8, but on 4 July, 6 784 MW of the national
load was shed. That’s Stage 7 of load-shedding. This effectively means Stage 8 can’t be ruled
out. On 4 July, the national grid was close to Stage 8.”
He said he does not believe what is happening was deliberate.
“I don’t believe there is any executive at Eskom who would deliberately cause load-shedding.
My take is that we have a competency problem not only at Senior Management level at
Eskom, but at board level and the ministry of DPE (Department of Public Enterprise),” Koko

He agreed with the views of another former Eskom CEO, Jacob Maroga, that the power
utility does have enough MW to keep the lights on.
He said: “Mr Maroga is correct. South Africa has no generation capacity problem. The
problem is plant breakdowns. Plant breakdowns of between 15 000 and 18 000MW are
simply too high. This simply points to a competence problem throughout the generation value
Koko said Eskom has “absolutely run out of ideas and the government is overwhelmed and
out of its depth.”
What could be the best solution to end these crippling blackouts?
“We need a technical oversight committee with generation specialists to advise the Eskom
board. The majority of the people in this committee must not be so-called energy experts. It
must be reliability specialists. Eskom is definitely not run by appropriate people,” he said.
The unfortunate thing is that, he said, there is nothing those who want to be compensated for
loss of businesses and those households who have had their electrical appliances breaking
down, can do.
Maroga and Koko were part of the class that brought load-shedding to a standstill. During
their tenure, people even forgot for a while about the monster called load-shedding.
In a recent interview on eNCA, Maroga said Eskom has got more than enough capacity and
the energy demand was actually lower than it was in 2009.
He said load-shedding is going to be a part of our lives, but it does not have to be because
there is a solution. Maroga said the solution was simple, “fix 15000 MW and we have solved
the problem”.
Maroga said renewable IPPs and load-shedding are not going to solve this problem.

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