Note to editors: The following remarks were made by Mmusi Maimane MP, DA Parliamentary Leader, during a demonstration outside Megawatt Park in support of breaking the Eskom monopoly over South Africa’s power supply.

We are here at Eskom’s Megawatt Park headquarters today to protest against the electricity crisis that threatens to shut down our economy.

We are here to say enough is enough.

No longer can South Africa afford to have Eskom supply 95% of our electricity when mismanagement is the order of the day behind these walls.

No longer can we allow a situation where Eskom not only produces the bulk of our electricity, but also decides where we buy and how we sell our electricity.

Our existing power stations under Eskom have fallen into disrepair, breaking down on a weekly basis due to a lack of maintenance.

Eskom has also been unable to build new power stations on time either, with Medupi and Kusile now more than 5 years behind schedule.

In the meantime, the costs of these projects to the taxpayer have more than doubled. Medupi’s final estimated pricetag of over R170 billion will make it one of the most expensive coal-fired power stations in the world.

Eskom’s failure to plan ahead is the central reason why we have load-shedding today.

And yet, since load-shedding began in 2008, Eskom’s top executives have been paid R63 million in performance bonuses.

Bonuses for doing what exactly?

While executives took home millions in reward for their mismanagement, load-shedding cost the South African economy R300 billion and 1 000 000 jobs.

Load-shedding is not a mere inconvenience. Load-shedding is job-shedding. Electricity is the fuel that drives our economy, and without an adequate supply it will not grow.

The electricity crisis touches every single aspect of our daily lives. Parents are left unable to cook for their children, students cannot study, hospitals cannot care for their patients and factories cannot produce.

We can no longer sit back and wait for the lights to go on. We must restore power to the people.

The time has come to break Eskom’s monopoly over our electricity supply.

We must urgently allow a significant number of Independent Power Producers to contribute electricity to the national grid.

The private sector is ready and waiting to supply the power that Eskom is unable to. Not only will this approach result in increased electricity generation capacity, it will also create thousands of jobs.

But as long as Eskom is responsible for buying, selling and generating South Africa’s electricity, it will act only in its own interests and against competitors. It will do this even though it cannot power South Africa on its own.

That is why it is in the interests of all South Africans that we take the management of our grid out of Eskom’s hands, and that an independent institution makes the decisions on where our electricity supply must come from.

We must open Eskom up to competition from the private sector. This is the only way to unlock the potential that the market has to generate the electricity needed to grow our economy and create jobs.

Today President Zuma and his cabinet are meeting in Pretoria on this very question.

If the decision is taken to protect the Eskom monopoly, as was done at the ANC lekgotla last week, it will be a catastrophic development for South Africa’s economy.

Reading about cabinet receiving briefings on security plans to whisk President Zuma and his executive to safety in the event of a national electricity grid collapse, even as they’re preparing to entrench Eskom’s monopoly, is an insult to South Africans.

Talk about putting the interests of the powerful before the interests of the people.

Eskom has taken us to the brink of an economic shutdown. We simply must break the Eskom monopoly, before it breaks South Africa.

Eskom, Eskom Monopoly, Megawatt Park, Mmusi Maimane, Power to the People

Resolving SA’s electricity crisis starts with breaking Eskom’s monopoly

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