South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.Photo: Contributed
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa.Photo: Contributed

Ramaphosa denies pause in power cuts is linked to election

Reuters
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday rejected opposition allegations that a recent pause in the electricity cuts that have plagued that country for years was due to elections coming up on 29 May.

Rolling power cuts imposed by state utility Eskom reached record levels in 2023 and continued in the first quarter of this year, but there has now been no load-shedding, as South Africans call the cuts, for 48 straight days - the longest period for more than two years.

Over the same 48-day period last year, there were power cuts every day, according to data collected by The Outlier, an independent South African publication specialising in public service data visualisations.

The dramatic improvement in power supply has been a talking point in South African media and has led to opposition accusations that the timing was designed to improve voter satisfaction with the governing African National Congress (ANC).

The ANC faces its toughest electoral test to date, with opinion polls suggesting it is on course to lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since it came to power 30 years ago at the end of apartheid.

In a weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa said Eskom's improved performance showed that the government's energy plan announced in 2022 was bearing fruit. "Yet, against all the available evidence, some people have claimed that the reduced load-shedding is a political ploy ahead of the elections," he said. "This is not borne out by the facts."

Ramaphosa attributed the improvement to a renewed focus by Eskom on maintenance, new generation capacity from renewable energy projects and strong take-up of rooftop solar panels boosted by tax incentives.



Burning diesel

The Democratic Alliance (DA), the biggest opposition party, last week attributed the improved power supply to "political interference" by the ANC, which it accused of putting pressure on Eskom to keep the lights on.

"South Africans should not be fooled by this brazen abuse of power and they must act to decisively vote out the manipulators on 29 May," it said in a statement on its website.

A particular point of dispute was whether Eskom was burning more diesel to increase supply, as alleged last week by the utility's former CEO, Andre de Ruyter, who is openly antagonistic towards the ANC.

"If the lights are on, well done, but they're on because we are pouring money into diesel at a rate of knots," De Ruyter, who stepped down in February 2023, told a conference in South Africa in comments widely reported by local media.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) said on Friday that in April alone, Eskom had generated 168.5 gigawatt hours from diesel generators, more than half of the maximum it is normally allowed per quarter.

In televised remarks on Monday, electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa denied that excessive use of diesel-powered turbines was behind the pause in load-shedding.

"Nothing could be further from the truth," he said, accusing Eskom's detractors of attempting "to soil the work that the Eskom team has done... in its totality from the board to the lowest members, including the cleaners".

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LaLiga: Sevilla 1 vs 2 Barcelona | Celta Vigo 2 vs 2 Valencia | Las Palmas 1 vs 1 Deportivo Alaves | Getafe 1 vs 2 Mallorca | Real Madrid 0 vs 0 Real Betis | Almería 6 vs 1 Cadiz | Rayo Vallecano 0 vs 1 Athletic Club | Real Sociedad 0 vs 2 Atletico Madrid | Osasuna 1 vs 1 Villarreal | Girona 7 vs 0 Granada SerieA: SS Lazio 1 vs 1 Sassuolo | Hellas Verona 2 vs 2 Inter Milan | Empoli 2 vs 1 AS Roma | Frosinone 0 vs 1 Udinese | Atalanta 3 vs 0 Torino | Napoli 0 vs 0 Lecce | AC Milan 3 vs 3 Salernitana | Juventus 2 vs 0 Monza | Genoa 2 vs 0 Bologna European Championships Qualifying: Leeds United 0 vs 1 Southampton FA Cup: Manchester City 1 vs 2 Manchester United English Championship: Leeds United 0 vs 1 Southampton Katima Mulilo: 11° | 30° Rundu: 11° | 30° Eenhana: 13° | 31° Oshakati: 14° | 30° Ruacana: 15° | 31° Tsumeb: 14° | 28° Otjiwarongo: 12° | 27° Omaruru: 14° | 29° Windhoek: 11° | 24° Gobabis: 12° | 25° Henties Bay: 17° | 25° Wind speed: 47km/h, Wind direction: NE, Low tide: 11:38, High tide: 05:37, Low Tide: 00:10, High tide: 18:15 Swakopmund: 16° | 18° Wind speed: 28km/h, Wind direction: NE, Low tide: 11:36, High tide: 05:35, Low Tide: 00:08, High tide: 18:13 Walvis Bay: 16° | 23° Wind speed: 34km/h, Wind direction: NE, Low tide: 11:36, High tide: 05:34, Low Tide: 00:08, High tide: 18:12 Rehoboth: 13° | 26° Mariental: 14° | 28° Keetmanshoop: 15° | 28° Aranos: 14° | 28° Lüderitz: 17° | 33° Ariamsvlei: 15° | 29° Oranjemund: 19° | 31° Luanda: 23° | 27° Gaborone: 11° | 24° Lubumbashi: 10° | 26° Mbabane: 10° | 23° Maseru: 6° | 21° Antananarivo: 9° | 21° Lilongwe: 11° | 26° Maputo: 17° | 27° Windhoek: 11° | 24° Cape Town: 14° | 24° Durban: 14° | 23° Johannesburg: 13° | 20° Dar es Salaam: 22° | 29° Lusaka: 14° | 24° Harare: 10° | 24° Currency: GBP to NAD 23.39 | EUR to NAD 19.92 | CNY to NAD 2.53 | USD to NAD 18.35 | DZD to NAD 0.14 | AOA to NAD 0.02 | BWP to NAD 1.31 | EGP to NAD 0.38 | KES to NAD 0.14 | NGN to NAD 0.01 | ZMW to NAD 0.68 | ZWL to NAD 0.04 | BRL to NAD 3.56 | RUB to NAD 0.21 | INR to NAD 0.22 | USD to DZD 134.3 | USD to AOA 851.84 | USD to BWP 13.58 | USD to EGP 47.12 | USD to KES 132.48 | USD to NGN 1474 | USD to ZAR 18.35 | USD to ZMW 26.81 | USD to ZWL 321 | Stock Exchange: JSE All Share Index 79150.84 Up +0.25% | Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) Overall Index 1748.47 Down -0.71% | Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) MASI 13370.7 Down -0.04% | Egyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index 27205.14 Down -0.08% | Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) DCI 9141.35 Same 0 | NSX: MTC 7.75 SAME | Anirep 8.99 SAME | Capricorn Investment group 17.34 SAME | FirstRand Namibia Ltd 49 DOWN 0.50% | Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Ltd 4.1 UP 2.50% | Namibia Asset Management Ltd 0.7 SAME | Namibia Breweries Ltd 31.49 UP 0.03% | Nictus Holdings - Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 353.65/OZ UP +0.70% | Copper US$ 4.79/lb UP +1.22% | Zinc US$ 3 077.30/T UP 0.19% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 83.28/BBP UP +1.15% | Platinum US$ 1 053.93/OZ UP +2.31% Sport results: LaLiga: Sevilla 1 vs 2 Barcelona | Celta Vigo 2 vs 2 Valencia | Las Palmas 1 vs 1 Deportivo Alaves | Getafe 1 vs 2 Mallorca | Real Madrid 0 vs 0 Real Betis | Almería 6 vs 1 Cadiz | Rayo Vallecano 0 vs 1 Athletic Club | Real Sociedad 0 vs 2 Atletico Madrid | Osasuna 1 vs 1 Villarreal | Girona 7 vs 0 Granada SerieA: SS Lazio 1 vs 1 Sassuolo | Hellas Verona 2 vs 2 Inter Milan | Empoli 2 vs 1 AS Roma | Frosinone 0 vs 1 Udinese | Atalanta 3 vs 0 Torino | Napoli 0 vs 0 Lecce | AC Milan 3 vs 3 Salernitana | Juventus 2 vs 0 Monza | Genoa 2 vs 0 Bologna European Championships Qualifying: Leeds United 0 vs 1 Southampton FA Cup: Manchester City 1 vs 2 Manchester United English Championship: Leeds United 0 vs 1 Southampton Weather: Katima Mulilo: 11° | 30° Rundu: 11° | 30° Eenhana: 13° | 31° Oshakati: 14° | 30° Ruacana: 15° | 31° Tsumeb: 14° | 28° Otjiwarongo: 12° | 27° Omaruru: 14° | 29° Windhoek: 11° | 24° Gobabis: 12° | 25° Henties Bay: 17° | 25° Wind speed: 47km/h, Wind direction: NE, Low tide: 11:38, High tide: 05:37, Low Tide: 00:10, High tide: 18:15 Swakopmund: 16° | 18° Wind speed: 28km/h, Wind direction: NE, Low tide: 11:36, High tide: 05:35, Low Tide: 00:08, High tide: 18:13 Walvis Bay: 16° | 23° Wind speed: 34km/h, Wind direction: NE, Low tide: 11:36, High tide: 05:34, Low Tide: 00:08, High tide: 18:12 Rehoboth: 13° | 26° Mariental: 14° | 28° Keetmanshoop: 15° | 28° Aranos: 14° | 28° Lüderitz: 17° | 33° Ariamsvlei: 15° | 29° Oranjemund: 19° | 31° Luanda: 23° | 27° Gaborone: 11° | 24° Lubumbashi: 10° | 26° Mbabane: 10° | 23° Maseru: 6° | 21° Antananarivo: 9° | 21° Lilongwe: 11° | 26° Maputo: 17° | 27° Windhoek: 11° | 24° Cape Town: 14° | 24° Durban: 14° | 23° Johannesburg: 13° | 20° Dar es Salaam: 22° | 29° Lusaka: 14° | 24° Harare: 10° | 24° Economic Indicators: Currency: GBP to NAD 23.39 | EUR to NAD 19.92 | CNY to NAD 2.53 | USD to NAD 18.35 | DZD to NAD 0.14 | AOA to NAD 0.02 | BWP to NAD 1.31 | EGP to NAD 0.38 | KES to NAD 0.14 | NGN to NAD 0.01 | ZMW to NAD 0.68 | ZWL to NAD 0.04 | BRL to NAD 3.56 | RUB to NAD 0.21 | INR to NAD 0.22 | USD to DZD 134.3 | USD to AOA 851.84 | USD to BWP 13.58 | USD to EGP 47.12 | USD to KES 132.48 | USD to NGN 1474 | USD to ZAR 18.35 | USD to ZMW 26.81 | USD to ZWL 321 | Stock Exchange: JSE All Share Index 79150.84 Up +0.25% | Namibian Stock Exchange (NSX) Overall Index 1748.47 Down -0.71% | Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) MASI 13370.7 Down -0.04% | Egyptian Exchange (EGX) 30 Index 27205.14 Down -0.08% | Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) DCI 9141.35 Same 0 | NSX: MTC 7.75 SAME | Anirep 8.99 SAME | Capricorn Investment group 17.34 SAME | FirstRand Namibia Ltd 49 DOWN 0.50% | Letshego Holdings (Namibia) Ltd 4.1 UP 2.50% | Namibia Asset Management Ltd 0.7 SAME | Namibia Breweries Ltd 31.49 UP 0.03% | Nictus Holdings - Nam 2.22 SAME | Oryx Properties Ltd 12.1 UP 1.70% | Paratus Namibia Holdings 11.99 SAME | SBN Holdings 8.45 SAME | Trustco Group Holdings Ltd 0.48 SAME | B2Gold Corporation 47.34 DOWN 1.50% | Local Index closed 677.62 UP 0.12% | Overall Index closed 1534.6 DOWN 0.05% | Osino Resources Corp 19.47 DOWN 2.41% | Commodities: Gold US$ 2 353.65/OZ UP +0.70% | Copper US$ 4.79/lb UP +1.22% | Zinc US$ 3 077.30/T UP 0.19% | Brent Crude Oil US$ 83.28/BBP UP +1.15% | Platinum US$ 1 053.93/OZ UP +2.31%