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DA waits for Mbete on urgent load shedding debate

Eskom cranked upload shedding from stage two on Sunday, to stage four on Monday.

FILE: National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete. Picture: AFP

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The Democratic Alliance (DA) is waiting to hear from National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete on whether she will grant a request for an urgent debate on the power blackouts.

Eskom cranked up load shedding from stage two on Sunday, to stage four on Monday.

The official opposition says it's important for the matter to be debated before President Cyril Ramaphosa replies to two days of debate on his State of the Nation Address on Thursday.

Ramaphosa announced that the power utility will be unbundled and the state will bail the company out of its debt trap.

The issue is likely to lead to a contentious debate in the House on Tuesday.

While Eskom's management says unbundling operations at the power utility is a worldwide trend and will help it to contain costs, the DA's Natasha Mazzone says government's plan does not go far enough.

She says the DA's Private Members' Bill, which it plans to table soon, will break Eskom's monopoly.

“It will allow for cities which have proved financial sustainability to purchase power themselves and not directly from Eskom.”

The party says the matter must be debated under Parliament's urgency rules this week: “The DA feels that it's imperative that a debate of national importance is held as a matter of urgency, as the latest power cuts will no doubt have an impact on the day to day operations of small businesses and lead to further job losses.”

The Department of Public Enterprises is scheduled to appear before a parliamentary committee on Wednesday to discuss the Eskom unbundling plan.

SOUTH AFRICANS WARNED TO EXPECT UNSCHEDULED BLACKOUTS

South Africans have been warned to expect unscheduled power cuts without warning.

The power utility says 4,000 megawatts are needed to be shed from the power grid urgently.

This means load shedding will be scheduled 12 times, over a four day period for at least two hours at a time.

Energy expert Chris Yelland says Eskom’s escalation of stage four load shedding could result in the financial loss of at least R4 billion a day.

But he says rotational load shedding will protect the power grid from plunging into complete darkness.

“Failure to implement load shedding when supply does not meet demand is the first step to rolling out a series of blackouts in extensive areas of the country, even throughout the country.”

Eskom agrees stage four load-shedding is the final option to prevent a national blackout.

The utility hopes to recover some generating capacity in order to suspend stage four.

View a load shedding data map on Cape Town here.

Check your area's load shedding schedule here.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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