The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) says it is doing everything possible to end or minimise load shedding, and those who stand in its way will face the full force of the law.
The department’s new standpoint was in a response statement to a letter from Mabuza Attorneys demanding that the department and Eskom make certain undertakings regarding load shedding and the 18.65% electricity tariff increase granted by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).
“We want to assure the public that everything possible is being done to end or minimise load shedding,” said the DPE.
“However, those who are a part of corruption, intimidation and abuse of procurement practices or obstruct government’s efforts to clean up each power station of such corruption, will face the full might of the law.”
All South Africans must unite to eliminate this corruption. At the same time, Eskom is in the process of finalising its plans to take further urgent steps to stabilise the power station’s performance and reliability,” the DPE added.
The attorney’s letter – that the government acknowledged – represents the views of opposition politicians and South Africa’s biggest labour unions.
The letter states that groups of public interest are in a position to engage in a lawsuit against Eskom’s CEO Andre de Ruyter and the Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordan if the two do not devise a detailed plan to stop rolling blackouts and reverse the recent tariff hike by Nersa.
Signatories behind the letter include the United Democratic Movement, Build One South Africa, the Inkatha Freedom Party, and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.
We demand that the state will commit to compensate everyone who has suffered quantifiable financial losses because of load shedding,” added the letter.
If the government and Eskom choose not to comply with the demands by 20 January, they will face legal action, seeking relief for the damage caused by the outages by 23 January, stated the letter.
According to the DPE, it is still considering the letter and seeking legal advice on the matter and will respond in due course.
The government is also coming under fire from the opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, which is also challenging government by approaching the High court for an immediate interdict on the recent tariff increase.
South Africans, who have already had to spend a third of 2022 in darkness and are burdened with indefinite stage 6 load shedding, are now expected to also pay for the looting and mismanagement of Eskom through exorbitant tariff increases,” said the leader of the party, John Steenhuisen.
“In light of the worsening electricity crisis…I have instructed our lawyers to apply to the High Court of South Africa for an interdict to stop the implementation of this tariff increase,” said Steenhuisen.
Eskom has reached a new low with mass public outcry over continuous and severe rolling blackouts. Despite promises from the government that load shedding will be a thing of the past within the next 12 to 18 months, energy experts say that it will only get worse with stage 8 load shedding looming.
Below is a copy of the response statement to the letter from the attorneys: