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S. Africa's electricity utility urged to provide clariity over worsening power shortage
Last Updated: 2018-12-10 09:54 | Xinhua
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Calls emerged on Sunday for electricity utility Eskom to provide clarity over the re-implementation of power cuts that have gripped the country for more than one month.

Especially for the past week, load shedding was upgraded from Stage 1 to Stage 2, the most serious load shedding this year.

Stage 1 load shedding allows for up to 1,000MW of the national load to be shed once a day, while Stage 2 calls for 2,000MW to be rotationally shed nationally at a given period.

There have been conflicting reports surrounding the current crisis -- ranging from state capture and a lack of coal to allegations of irregular tenders and Eskom's use of companies that are unable to provide the services Eskom so desperately needs.

On Sunday, the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) urged Eskom to provide clarity with regards to the many theories, explanations and excuses provided by Eskom "during these very dark days."

Eskom has been accused of signing behind-the-door tender agreements with companies linked with the controversial Indian Gupta family which allegedly colluded with senior government officials in looting from state-owned enterprises, known as state capture.

Gupta-linked companies are blamed for the shortage of coal which Eskom heavily relies on for power generation.

"For the sake of clarity and transparency, the DA calls on Eskom to provide a list of all the companies it has taken action against with regards to incorrect tender processes," said Natasha Mazzone, DA spokesperson on state capture.

The DA also calls on Eskom to inform South Africans whether it has applied for any urgent interdicts to stop contracts which result in coal shortages, Mazzone said.

Eskom, which provides more than 95 percent of electricity consumed in the country, implements load shedding rotationally as a last resort to protect the power system from a total collapse.

Earlier this week, the DA launched a petition with the aim of breaking monopoly on electricity generation to allow independent power producers to play a role.

Eskom has proven that it is incapable of delivering power to South Africans within its current operational model, and it has proven so time and again in many different ways, Mazzone said.

For example, money for plant maintenance was re-directed toward Gupta-linked firms in 2015, resulting in new and higher upkeep costs in 2018, he said.

Poor project management at Medupi and Kusile, two major stations, also doubled the costs of the building process, Mazzone said.

The underlying problem, regardless of the current crisis, is that the structure of Eskom inevitably needs to change, he said.

Eskom is an entity which finds itself in a state of complete collapse and the only thing that can save it is if the entire structure changes, Mazzone added.

All these problems highlight the serious corruption and irregularities at the state-run parastatal, Mazzone said.

"South Africans deserve clarity and honesty with regards to this crisis," he said.

International ratings agencies have warned that Eskom is a risk to the health of South Africa's economy.

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