Western Cape Premier Helen Zille was stuck in a lift on her way to a TV interview as Eskom implemented stage 3A loadshedding across the country. She spent around 20 minutes in the lift, apparently tweeting to pass the time as the power outage caused the elevator to stop.
She took it in her stride, apparently more concerned about whether the interview was a live one, and about the rising temperature in the un-airconditioned lift.
She took time to admire the view though and said that it is her third time stuck in a lift and isn’t so scary if you are in good company.
It seems as if the loadshedding will continue through the weekend as South Africans lose patience with the parastatal.
Eskom said that it has had to intervene due to extremely high demand. It has shed 4,000MW from the national grid. Stage 3 doubles the frequency of the powercuts that would occur at stage 2, meaning that the utility may cut the power in an area three times in a 24 hour period in every area.
Eskom’s Andrew Etzinger says, “Eskom has unfortunately needed to extend load shedding to stage three on its schedule and what this means is that more parts of the country will be affected at any point in time. It’s a deeper form of load shedding.”
Yesterday, the utility implemented stage two load shedding across the country.
This came after the country experienced a second consecutive weekend of rolling blackouts at the weekend.
The weekend blackouts were due to general upkeep measures at the Cahora-Bassa hydroelectric power station in Mozambique.
The National Clothing Retail Federation of South Africa have urged Eskom to reconsider implementing rolling blackouts over the weekends as it is having a negative impact on retailers in the busy run-up to the festive season.
Michael Lawrence, executive director, on behalf of the federation, states:
The National Clothing Retail Federation of South Africa urges Eskom to review its implementation of rotational load shedding over weekends and to engage business more actively in limiting the fallout from the energy crisis. The retail sector, as a major GDP contributor and job creator, will not be able to optimise its economic benefit especially if adversely affected over the peak trading season.
Power outages over the last two weekends had a severe impact on the retail sector as a whole, which contributes some R650bn a year to the economy and is a major collector of the more than R220bn paid annually in value added tax to Government. In clothing retail, month-end trading ahead of the start of the peak shopping and tourism season was markedly affected by power cuts, resulting in many early store closures to mitigate increased risk of crime.
The effect is not only on federation members who are the favoured destinations of millions when choosing clothing, footwear, fashion accessories, cosmetics and related items. Local manufacturers on whom federation members rely for a competitive edge because of their ability to produce latest fashion quickly are losing production time and materials through waste resulting from disruptions. Mall owners are having to contend with lower turnovers by tenants and reduced parking income.
Opting for power outages right through the peak shopping season will inevitably mean lower trading revenues which in turn will translate into lower value added and other taxes paid to government and further constrain its ability to address priority needs in housing, health care and education.
The continued absence of any turnaround plan for Eskom – and that after almost a decade of intermittent power outages – is serving only to further undermine a weakened economy and postpone prospects for a recovery.
The statement by the Minister of Public Enterprises that Eskom must fix Eskom and the whole country should be patient while facing a tough two years over electricity supply regrettably suggests government, as the sole shareholder, is unwilling to entertain any private sector contributions to potential solutions to the energy crisis and Eskom’s operational issues.
As the organisation representing substantial taxpayers from annual sales of more than R50bn and as employers of more than 80,000 people, the federation urges government to share the turnaround plan for Eskom as soon as possible. Delaying this will cost South Africa dearly for years to come.
By Jenni McCann