By Staff Reporters

Years of mediocrity at Eskom has left Mzansi groping in the dark. And it looks like as a country we have raced to the bottom so much that we will celebrate those few moments when we have electricity.
This is the view of Professor Sipho Seepe who is adamant things are not going to get any better.
“It doesn’t matter how much people want to spin it, if you do not have the right people and right skills at the top, you are not going to resolve the electricity challenge,” said Prof Seepe. He was reacting to the latest announcement by the national electricity supplier, Eskom, that load-shedding has been escalated to Stage 4 following three Kendal generation units tripping.
Thereafter, it will revert to Stage 2, they promised. Prior to this, a generating unit each at Arnot and Medupi power stations had been taken offline for emergency repairs. If this announcement by Eskom is anything to go by, therefore the power supply is no longer guaranteed as the power utility struggles to keep the lights-on. Describing the latest power-cuts, engineer and former Eskom employee, Matshela Koko, said this was traditionally uncommon and uncharecteristic to load-shed this time of the year.
“The performance of power stations is such that performance in summer is worse than winter. Therefore, if the power cuts start now, then we are heading for disaster,” Koko warned.
Koko added that these latest developments are not as a result of sabotage but a reflection of organisational discipline which has gone south. “It tells you that management control structures at Eskom no longer exist and most importantly you don’t have the right commanders and generals on the field. So, the latest load-shedding is a reflection of the deterioration of Eskom.” Mzansi also needs to reflect on the historical reasons why the country experiences electricity challenges. The most obvious reason, explains Prof Seepe, is that the previous regime only catered for the minority. “With the advent of democracy load-shedding expanded to the disadvantaged majority. “From that perspective, the ANC government should have anticipated this challenge. Common sense dictates that there should have been greater investment. But when former President Jacob Zuma brought both Brian Molefe and Koko on board the duo solved the load-shedding puzzle. “That much is a historical fact. They managed to do so even before the plants got into operation.” Since the return of load-shedding in 2018, things are not going to get better. “It doesn’t matter how much people want to spin it, if you do not have the right people and the right skills at the top, you are not going to resolve the electricity challenge,” the Prof added.
Kevin Mileham, DA Shadow Minister of Energy, shared Prof Seepe’s sentiment that load-shedding is directly attributable to a lack of political will and oversight by the ANC to ensure that new plants were built from 2000 to 2010.
“We are now at a point where we need to add every megawatt we can to the grid. This is the only way Eskom will be afforded time and space necessary to do the maintenance it needs,” Mileham said.
He added that since new generation capacity is not going to come within Eskom, the power utility must be enabled to accelerate the procurement of electricity from Independent Power Producers.
Mileham acknowledged that there were issues plaguing Eskom such as a lack of maintenance of existing fleet, a lack of capacity or resources to build new generation capacity internally, a loss of key personnel as well as the huge debt burden and low collection rate (particularly from municipalities).
Mzwanele Manyi attributed the problems at Eskom to zero-leadership. “From day one, as the ATM, we did say that the CEO [of Eskom] Andre de Ruiter was not a perfect fit for the job. This is a reflection of the unequal treatment of executives because if he were black he would have been long chased out for being incompetent. We have normalised mediocrity.” Manyi said small and medium enterprises are greatly impacted by the constant power cuts. “It is the same for poor people who can’t afford gadgets such as power-surge protectors which safeguard appliances from being destroyed by the constant power cuts. Cyril Ramaphosa and his Cabinet must go.”

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