'I'm determined Eskom challenges will be solved by weekend': Ramaphosa

ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa addresses supporters during a local government election campaign in Limpopo.
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa addresses supporters during a local government election campaign in Limpopo.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi / The Sunday Times

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday said that now was not the time to point fingers at who was responsible for Eskom’s ongoing rolling blackouts. Instead, he wants the matter resolved immediately.

“This is not the time for incriminations. It is, for me, a time to get people to buckle down and do their work. I don’t believe that this was intentional,” said Ramaphosa on the sidelines of an election campaign trail in Ekurhuleni.

His comments come a day after the power utility ramped load-shedding up to stage 4.

Ramaphosa told journalists: “We are all concerned and, also, a bit upset. Others are very angry, and this is the time for us to work together to solve this problem.”

He explained that there were a number of challenges at this time of the year with load-shedding because this was when a lot of maintenance was done.

“It then becomes unfortunate when those generators that are meant to generate the power also face breakages and now, obviously, when it happens around two or more occasions, like matriculants writing exams and an election, it does become a major challenge to the people of our county. I am concerned,” he said.

He said this is why he insisted that public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan give the facts and an explanation to the nation on Wednesday.

“I know that they are working very hard to turn the situation around and I am confident that they will turn it around by the weekend,” he said.

Ramaphosa said the nation can expect another explanation in relation to the future trajectory of further power generation with renewables.

“We are going to get that information ... so that we can give a balanced story to the nation about where we are headed,” he said.

A press briefing in this regard was scheduled for 7pm on Thursday.

Ramaphosa said he was aware that this was a matter of great concern to all South Africans but “when we give an explanation and are transparent, people do get a sense of understanding”.

He added: “The breakage of machines is not intentional. There could be some negligence. There could be some oversight that did not happen but it is not intentional and it so happens that it happened at a critical time in the life of our country. Young people are writing their matric exams and people are going to the polls — but also a number of people who rely on electricity for their livelihoods, and also our economy.”

Ramaphosa said “these are challenges that we must solve and we are going to solve them. I am determined that they shall be solved by the weekend”.

When asked if Gordhan was exempt from any accountability, Ramaphosa said: “No, I did say that we are working together and this is not the time for recrimination ... I know that you are pushing, saying I should fire him, he should resign and all of that and I know that that’s the drama that you want to see. My concern, my main drama is that Eskom must be returned to proper functionality and it must happen now and immediately, that is my main issue. The other issues, I will see later.”