The Democratic Alliance (DA) has levelled accusations against Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, asserting that he has deliberately deceived the South African public regarding load shedding for political gain. The party has deemed this behaviour highly irresponsible and deserving of severe criticism. They have gone so far as to label Ramokgopa as a purveyor of significant falsehoods.

By Lezeth Khoza

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has levelled accusations against Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the Minister of Electricity, asserting that he is untruthful and primarily focused on managing President Cyril Ramaphosa’s public image. Consequently, the DA advises South Africans to exercise scepticism towards any statements made by Ramokgopa regarding the mitigation of load shedding.

In light of the prevailing stage 6 load shedding, Samantha Graham-Maré, the Shadow Minister of Electricity for the Democratic Alliance (DA), has characterised Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, the Minister of Electricity, as a Big Lie.

In an interview with The Telegram, Graham-Maré expressed her concerns and stated that despite his consistent dishonesty towards citizens, Ramokgopa was comparatively more competent than the other ministers responsible for power provision in South Africa.

“Look, out of the five ministers responsible for the provision of electricity in the country, these being Gwede Mantashe Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Pravin Gordhan Public Enterprises, Barbara Creecy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries and Finance Minister  Enoch Godongwana, at least he is visible making excuses each week. The others who should be cooperating with him are nowhere to be seen.

“That being said, he brings nothing to the table and nothing he says should be taken seriously. Since his appointment seven months ago nothing that he has promised has materialised.  Every week he has a new excuse and another excuse as to why his first excuse should be accepted,” she said.

According to Graham-Maré, South Africa has experienced more severe occurrences of load shedding in the current year than in the last ten years combined. She further asserted that this trend is expected to persist due to a lack of competence and direction within the government.

She said Ramokgopa and other government officials are not effectively addressing the underlying concerns related to the country’s power shortage. Instead, she further added, they seem to be relying solely on the Kusile power station to miraculously resolve all our issues.

Graham-Maré expressed the need for transparency and honesty from Ramaphosa’s administration regarding their understanding of the current situation. She criticized the government for misleading the public with statements such as “a turning point in the power crisis had been reached” and “load-shedding won’t be rising to higher levels.”

“Government has made a misleading claim in July 2023 to the effect that the “recovery” in generation capacity was sustainable and would last until the end of winter, and that sunk the country to new load-shedding depths, with estimates showing that load-shedding in 2023 is worse than the last 10 years combined.

“They have blown through Eskom’s diesel budget to maintain the misleading illusion that generation was stabilising. Eskom is on course to exhaust its diesel budget before the end of Eskom’s financial year in March 2024. Ramokgopa has Failed to explain why South Africa has not taken up the 100MW that has been offered by the Mozambique government,” she said.

Graham-Maré said in winter, when he should have conducted pre-winter maintenance, the “minister hosted a media briefing where he explained why maintenance was slowed down during winter because of intense planned maintenance.

“Part of the reason why we are where we are as a country is the deterioration of the generating capacity is that we have not been sticking to planned maintenance, we have not been sticking to philosophy maintenance. That also has to do with the fact that Eskom’s balance sheet was severely compromised, there were few resources to invest on the maintenance side and what has been happening for a long period is that the units have been exploited without the necessary maintenance and that has caught up with us,” she said.

Graham-Maré said in an attempt to salvage the rapidly deteriorating power grid systems, Eskom has been working with German energy consultants.

According to a report by BusinessTech, consultants have recently concluded a comprehensive assessment of Eskom’s coal-fired plants. The findings of this review will be presented to Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.

Despite these efforts, the country is currently facing an unprecedented level of power outages, with stage 7 load shedding imminent. In light of this situation, Eskom has urged the public to be mindful of their electricity usage, particularly during the cold front, to prevent further escalation of load-shedding.

Since the appointment of the Minister of Electricity, there have been assurances of decreased load shedding and increased investments in stabilising the country’s power grid. However, South Africa is still facing significant challenges with load shedding, even after the winter season.

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