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It has been one week since Ramaphosa promised an Eskom plan ‘in the coming days’

Business Insider SA
(Getty)
(Getty)

News analysis

  • On 11 July, President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation the Eskom crisis requires bold action, which would be announced swiftly.
  • He had been working with officials and ministers for two weeks, he said.
  • They just had to finish off some details before a comprehensive announcement "in the coming days".
  • That was a week ago.
  • Eskom expects the load shedding risk to decline towards the end of July.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

One week ago, on 11 July, President Cyril Ramaphosa headlined his regular weekly newsletter "We can and will do more to end load shedding". He acknowledged the sentiment that came with Stage 6 load shedding ("South Africans are right to feel frustrated and angry") and said things would get better, even if, "[a]t times like this, it can feel like there is no end in sight"."

Then he effectively asked for just a little more patience, as the hard work already being done behind the scenes is completed.

"Over the past two weeks, we have been working with the relevant ministers and senior officials on a range of additional measures to accelerate all efforts to increase our electricity supply. The message is clear: this is no time for business as usual. We need to act boldly to make load shedding a thing of the past...

"We will soon be completing the detailed work and consultations needed to finalise these further measures. We will then, in the coming days, be able to announce a comprehensive set of actions to achieve much faster progress in tackling load shedding."

There has been no such announcement.

See also | 7 times Cyril Ramaphosa promised progress on Eskom – and stressed its urgent importance – including in 2015

Instead, since then, Ramaphosa's spokesperson said the President was "anxious" to address the nation on Eskom, while his administration appeared to float the idea of declaring a "power emergency". Neither has happened yet.

Late last week, Ramaphosa said he supported the idea of an Eskom 2.0 built within government, as proposed by his energy minister Gwede Mantashe, to create competition in electricity generation while not allowing privatisation.

By the weekend, Ramaphosa appeared to have cooled somewhat to the idea, saying Eskom must come first, while Eskom 2.0 can wait.

In the time since Ramaphosa promised swift action in the face of immediate anger, the forecast for electricity rationing has improved, with Eskom saying things will look much better towards the end of July. 

A Koeberg unit returning to service, for instance, would ease the pressure considerably, said Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. But he simultaneously stressed, again, that South Africa requires more generating capacity, and could not continue to rely on Eskom's badly-aged fleet of coal power stations.

Ramaphosa, in the meanwhile, promised his administration would "come up with a number of proposals" to end load shedding. He did not say exactly when that would be.

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