Jean-Jacques Cornish

Get used to power cuts, warns ESCOM

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.

President Jacob Zuma said at the ANC’s 103rd birthday celebration in Cape Town on Saturday that the country’s electricity woes were a result of apartheid and could not be blamed on the ANC.

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.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.