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South Africa’s ANC walks political tightrope over coal plant shutdowns

South Africa’s ANC walks political tightrope over coal plant shutdowns

IN a ward South Africa's governing African National Congress (ANC) won handily in local elections three years ago, party campaign worker Poppy Vilakazi has been getting a decidedly frosty reception lately. "Mostly they are angry," she told Reuters, speaking in Komati, a village in the shadow of a shuttered power plant in Mpumalanga province, an ANC stronghold in the country's coal belt. "They feel the ANC let them down by allowing this power station to close." South Africa's creaky power sector and the economic fallout from state utility Eskom's struggle to keep the lights on are top issues in a May 29…
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South Africa’s Ramaphosa denies pause in power cuts is linked to election

South Africa’s Ramaphosa denies pause in power cuts is linked to election

SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa rejected opposition allegations that a recent pause in the electricity cuts that have plagued the country for years was due to an election coming up on May 29. Rolling power cuts imposed by state utility Eskom reached record levels in 2023 and continued in the first quarter of this year, but there has now been no load-shedding, as South Africans call the cuts, for 48 straight days, the longest period for more than two years. Over the same 48-day period last year, there were power cuts every day, according to data collected by The Outlier,…
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South Africa’s electricity crisis: a series of failures over 30 years have left a dim legacy

South Africa’s electricity crisis: a series of failures over 30 years have left a dim legacy

IN 1994, apartheid ended and the African National Congress (ANC) won South Africa’s first-ever democratic elections, promising “Electricity for All” as part of its Reconstruction and Development Programme. Back then only 36% of all South Africans had electricity in their homes. The development programme promised to double that number by electrifying an additional 2.5 million homes by 2000. This seemed achievable – during the 1980s, the state-owned power utility Eskom’s build programme was so aggressive it had surplus electricity. Some power stations even had to be mothballed. By 1994, South Africa’s coal industry was generating high-quality coal which was exported…
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State capture in South Africa: time to think differently about redress and recovering the stolen loot

State capture in South Africa: time to think differently about redress and recovering the stolen loot

SOUTH Africans are plunged into darkness daily by rolling power cuts. These are a stark reminder of the destruction that years of state capture wreaked on Eskom, the state-owned power utility. Eskom’s inability to meet the energy needs of citizens and the economy is now the undeniable example of how state capture made parastatals and other state institutions ineffective. The country urgently needs action to recover the stolen funds and fix the economy. So far, President Cyril Ramaphosa has offered only a few general targets, and outcomes have been dissatisfying. For example, the “total of R2.9 billion” that he said…
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South Africa’s electricity crisis: what political parties say in their election manifestos about solving it

South Africa’s electricity crisis: what political parties say in their election manifestos about solving it

SOUTH Africa is in the middle of a deep electricity crisis. In 2023 the public, many of whom are voters, experienced the worst load-shedding to date, losing power for an average of five hours a day. The power shortages were largely due to excessive breakdowns in the country’s coal power plant fleet, which generates over 80% of South Africa’s electricity, combined with delays in developing new generation capacity. The power crisis is a key election topic with national elections scheduled for 29 May. The ruling African National Congress (ANC) is tipped to lose its absolute majority in parliament. One reason…
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Dan Marokane: the new boss of South African utility Eskom

Dan Marokane: the new boss of South African utility Eskom

DAN Marokane is about to tackle the hardest job in South Africa: getting the lights back on. As CEO of state power utility Eskom, he takes on an organisation hampered by alleged coal theft and sabotage, which faces financial and technical crises. He will be working with a government shareholder who has a conflicted vision for the country's future energy mix and is struggling to move forward on a major overhaul of its electricity supply industry. As South Africa heads for national elections in May, turning Eskom around and solving a persistent power crunch could rescue Africa's most industrialised economy from a cycle…
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S.Africa’s power sector needs more private investment, Eskom chair says

S.Africa’s power sector needs more private investment, Eskom chair says

SOUTH Africa's power sector will require increased private sector investment as debt-ridden utility Eskom implements structural reforms and builds critical new infrastructure, the company's chairman told Reuters. Private sector involvement in the power sector is a politically sensitive subject as South Africa prepares for elections in May, and the chairman made clear that state-owned Eskom would not be moving towards privatisation. "Private sector participation, yes, but the asset is going to end up with the government," Mteto Nyati, the chairman of Eskom's board of directors, said in an interview. Africa's most industrialised nation is weathering its worst power crisis on…
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South Africans are opting to go off-grid: how they’re being helped, and hindered, in their efforts

South Africans are opting to go off-grid: how they’re being helped, and hindered, in their efforts

ESKOM, South Africa’s state-owned power utility, struggles to generate and supply a stable flow of electricity to meet demand. In 2023, there were times when households and businesses had no power for up to 11 hours a day. Eskom has warned that load shedding will be worse in 2024. GERMARIÉ VILJOEN, Associate Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law, North-West University, North-West University FELIX DUBE, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Public Law, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, University of Pretoria The result is that many South Africans are choosing to end or reduce their dependence on the…
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South Africa picks Marokane as next CEO of power firm Eskom

South Africa picks Marokane as next CEO of power firm Eskom

SOUTH Africa's government appointed Dan Marokane as its next Chief Executive Officer of its state power firm Eskom, which has implemented the worst rolling blackouts on record this year. Marokane, who previously held senior Eskom positions, including as its head of group capital, will rejoin no later than March 31 of next year, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a statement. Marokane has been acting CEO of sugar producer Tongaat Hulett (TONJ.J) since the end of February. Bloomberg News reported on Thursday that Marokane was expected to be appointed Eskom CEO. Eskom has been without a permanent CEO since February when then-CEO Andre…
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South Africa to pick Marokane as CEO of utility Eskom

South Africa to pick Marokane as CEO of utility Eskom

SOUTH Africa is expected to appoint Dan Marokane as Chief Executive of struggling state power utility Eskom, Bloomberg News reported, citing unnamed sources. Spokespeople for Eskom and the Department of Public Enterprises, the government department that oversees the power company, declined to comment on the Bloomberg report. Eskom has been without a permanent CEO since Andre de Ruyter left in February. Marokane is currently acting CEO at sugar producer Tongaat Hulett. He previously served as an executive at Eskom. Eskom has struggled to keep the lights on in Africa's most industrialised economy for more than a decade. This year it has…
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