“Prepare for the blackout.”
That is the word from Buffalo City Municipality to metro residents as the country takes stock of Eskom’s meltdown.
But big business energy users in the metro will most likely continue to enjoy a respite from load-shedding due to sweetheart tripartite contracts with the municipality and Eskom.
As the power utility introduced stage 6 load-shedding across the country for the first time this week, municipalities scrambled to rejig local rolling blackout schedules.
Despite Eskom chief operating officer Jan Oberholzer stating in a radio interview that load-shedding would not go beyond stage 6 and that there was no panic within Eskom’s Megawatt Park headquarters, two economists told the Dispatch: It is now time to panic.
The chief economist at the Efficient Group, Dawie Roodt, said: “At a certain stage we need to start panicking. It is time to prepare for the eventuality of a national blackout.”
Economists.co.za’s Mike Schussler said that while Eskom might not be in panic mode, “the rest of us are”.
“They are not telling us everything either, I believe, and that is what makes me panic.”
Both economists agreed the country could expect continuing negative ratings from international agencies.
“We are in crisis now,” said Schussler. “This is bad for ratings, it’s bad for growth. This makes it impossible for Eskom to pay off its debt.”
Roodt said the negative impact of Eskom’s successive failures in the last quarter of 2019 could drop economic growth to zero — the economy grew by just 0.3% for the first nine months of the year.