South Africans have been been warned by their electricity parastatal to expect power cuts at any time.
The statement from the Electricity Supply Commission or ESCOM comes after President Jaacob Zuma told the party faithful at the ANC’s 103rd birthday celebration that the power generation woes are a legacy of apartheid.
The opposition Democratic Alliance insists South Africa electricity crisis and the threat of economic shutdown are of the ANC’s own making.
The DA says it’s caused by the 21-year-old ANC government failing to invest in new plant and neglecting maintenance on existing plant.
“This is a crisis that is ANC-made,” said DA Parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane in a statement.
However, Maimane said Zuma can no longer use the evil of apartheid to justify the ANC’s failure to avoid the power crisis.
“The White Paper on energy policy warned as far back as 1998 that we would face an electricity crisis if we did not act. Had new power stations been built by deadline 5 years ago, there would be no load shedding today.
“But due to bad planning we are now in the position that SA cannot provide secure electricity supply. This is a basic responsibility of government.
He warned that the country is on the verge of an economic shutdown, and risks a credit rating downgrade to junk status.
On Friday parts of the country experienced load shedding for the first time this year after a spate of scheduled outages in December.
Nedbank chief economist Dennis Dykes warned that rolling blackouts could shave up to 1% of the country’s gross domestic product, which is forecast to rise to 2.5%, reported AFP.
“Unfortunately it certainly has the potential of hurting growth, anything between half a percent to one percent of GDP,” he said.
Load shedding is a different situation this year, said Dykes.
“It’s negatively affecting the retail sector, it’s much more across the board and it’s much more immediate,” he said.