Cyclone Kenneth: Does Mboweni have a plan in place to prevent potential rolling power blackouts?

A powerful Cyclone is reportedly moving towards Northern Mozambique. This would be the second storm system to hit the country in just over a month. In March, another powerful Cyclone Idai made two landfalls in Mozambique.

During the first storm the transmission line to South Africa was affected, cutting electricity supplies by 900 MW and thereby worsening the chronic electricity shortage in the country. This means that South Africa should brace itself for more rolling power blackouts as the electricity supply might be affected by the impending threat of tropical cyclone Kenneth.

Last week, it emerged that government has already issued a R17 billion emergency bailout to Eskom which was intended to pay bills due at the end of March and to save Eskom from a total collapse.

This raises numerous questions: If emergency funds were already given to Eskom for operational requirements, will there be emergency funds available should hurricane Kenneth strike and destabilize our electricity grid? And, where will those funds come from? Also with government raiding emergency contingency funding, how will President Ramaphosa fund the relief efforts already underway in the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Clearly Eskom has an inadequate cash flow to fund its capital expenditure program or sustain operational expenditure, the Democratic Alliance (DA) therefore calls on Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni to come clean about the plans that National Treasury and government have in place to mitigate against potential power failures suffered as a result of this looming cyclone since they have already spent R17 billion emergency funds just for Eskom’s to meet its day-to-day operational requirements.

Eskom will not to be able to generate enough internal cash to meet its obligations over the next five years. That is why, last year, the DA introduced the Independent Systems Market Operator (ISMO) Bill that seeks to break Eskom into two separate entities – a generation and transmission/distribution entity. This would cheapen the cost of electricity, bring about much needed competition and ensure that South Africa is not being forced to pay for the corruption and mismanagement which has taken place at Eskom.

South Africans need to know that the ANC government is prepared to plunge the country into debt, just to keep the lights on for the next 14 days until Election Day.

While we cannot control the force of nature and bad weather, we can put measures through proper governance and management to mitigate the damages natural disasters might bring.

The only way to put an end to this cloud of uncertainty surrounding Eskom is for South Africans to vote for change on May 8th. South Africans must be under NO illusions, after the elections, and if left in power the ANC will plunge country into darkness or a financial crisis – or both.

Only the DA has a plan to keep the lights on and turn around the mess at Eskom.