Energy crisis: Opposition MPs slam dept’s five-point plan

MPs said the Energy Department's energy crisis plan did little to allay the fears of South Africans.

FILE: Opposition MPs were responding to a briefing in Parliament by the Department of Energy. Picture:

CAPE TOWN - Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) on Tuesday said government's five-point plan to deal with the energy crunch offered little to allay the fears of South Africans.

They were responding to a briefing in Parliament by the Department of Energy.

MPs expressed concern that neither Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, nor her deputy Thembisile Majola were present.

With the minister and her director-general away in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was up to Deputy Director-General Ompi Aphane to brief on plans to ease the electricity crisis.

But MPs weren't happy.

The Inkatha Freedom Party's Essie Esterhuizen said, "This is really not a presentation that was done yesterday, these figures are outdated."

The Democratic Alliance's Gordon Mackay said, "This is supposed to be a five-point plan. No wonder South Africans are rightly worried."

Aphane said the country lost a third of its generating capacity when load shedding started in December, a situation he said could persist for the next three years.

At the same time, Cape Town businesses demanded a more reliable power supply.

It's estimated the commercial sector loses around R1 billion in revenue, every month, due to load shedding.

The City of Cape Town convened an energy efficiency forum where officials together with business people discussed ways to minimize the effect of power outages.

Deputy Mayor of Cape Town Ian Neilson said various interventions were being considered, including buying natural gas from offshore suppliers.

"The estimate is that if we have continued load shedding at stage one the businesses could be losing around R1 billion a month and that money could be better used in resolving the energy crisis."