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Load shedding, water restrictions to have impact at polls, says analyst

Political analyst Sithembile Mbete says although these issues come down to municipal and provincial governance, many won't see it that way.

FILE: A voter in Cape Town. Picture: Lauren Isaacs/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – With the general election set for May next year, questions are being asked about whether service delivery will have an impact on voters’ choices.

The country has been hit by load shedding due to a lack of coal and breakdowns at power stations.

Water restrictions were put in place in many parts of Gauteng at the weekend as a result of system failures at major pumping stations.

Political analyst Sithembile Mbete says although these issues come down to municipal and provincial governance, many won't see it that way.

“People don’t need those kinds of differentiations when they’re making their choice in an election; people judge according to their lived experience and things like service delivery, the issues with the electricity supply, issues with water supply are obviously going to play a role in people’s decisions.”

Meanwhile, as South Africans continue to grapple with load shedding, there are concerns that crime will also increase over the festive season as criminals take advantage of security systems with no power.

National police say officers do have the capacity to ensure citizens and their belongings are safe despite being easy targets during load shedding.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan promised last week that they were working towards no load shedding from this coming Saturday until 15 January.

While citizens are trying to find ways to survive occasionally without power, criminals are plotting their next targets.

Interpol's South African ambassador Andy Mashaile says he is extremely concerned about the risk of crime at this time of year, especially with load shedding.

“Your flying squad, your public order policing would serve best in the interest of the members of the community when they are deployed in an area where there’s going to be load shedding.”

National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo says residents must be more vigilant during power cuts.

“Now that we’ve load shedding, it means we need to make sure that we continue work with our policing approach.”

Eskom has predicted that it will need to continue with load shedding next year to conduct much-needed maintenance at power stations.

Additional reporting by Mia Lindeque.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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