SONA and Eskom: Pressure on Ramaphosa for timelines on IPPs

The announcement at State of the Nation Address (SONA) that municipalities will soon be allowed to purchase power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) has been welcomed by the DA and other opposition parties. 

South Africa’s official opposition the Democratic Alliance have urged timely action from the government on the issue of Eskom and the future of the nation’s power supply.

“The announcement that independent power producers will form part of the national power grid and that municipalities will be allowed to buy energy from them offered a single ray of hope,” said Dr Pieter Groenewald, Freedom Front Plus leader in a scathing assessment of the address.

The DA’s Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises Ghaleb Cachalia welcomed the proclamation from Cyril Ramaphosa but called on the president and government to put clear timelines in place.

SONA power promises under scrutiny

Eskom and its inability to keep the lights on have been identified as the single biggest threat to the South African economy, and IPPs have long been touted as a way to alleviate the critical shortfall.  

Ace on SONA: Ramaphosa focused on Radical Economic Transformation

Cachalia has offered to use the City of Cape Town as a trial run, claiming the DA run city would prove that removing restrictions on IPPs could eliminate loadshedding.

The DA have asked that the ANC drop their legal challenge against the City’s application to purchase additional power from IPPs.

“The Democratic Alliance welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that municipalities will now be allowed to purchase power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) after the Democratic Alliance had been calling for this for many years,” Cachalia said.

“However, we believe that President Ramaphosa’s announcements will mean nothing unless set timelines are urgently announced that will tell us when to expect delivery on promises. It will not be the first time that we have heard empty promises from the president.

“Now is the time for action.

“We, therefore, call on President Ramaphosa to immediately drop his government’s opposition to the City of Cape Town (CoCT) court case seeking Section 34 permission and grant Section 34 approval within the next 7 days.

“The CoCT will then prove to be the case study of an excellently governed municipality procuring directly and keeping the lights on and the economy going.”

The DA have further called for answers from the president on the subject of Eskom and its proposed unbundling and restructuring which has proven problematic for the ruling party who face opposition from unions.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa delivering his State of the Nation address (SONA) on 13 February 2020. Image via Twitter: @ParliamentofRSA

Eskom in a death spiral

“Eskom is in a death spiral and every day that goes by without the implementation of tangible solutions is another day of rolling blackouts and immense damage to our economy.”

The DA have asked the Ramaphosa how he is going to deal with an obstructionist stance from the ruling party’s alliance partners, whom they claim have been adept at opposing all restructuring plans.

Eskom announced on Friday (14 February) that there was once again a very high chance that loadshedding would be required over the weekend.

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