Maimane presses Ramaphosa on “blackout” drill

BY CHARL BOSCH - MARCH 30, 2015

Democratic Alliance (DA) Parliamentary leader, Mmusi Maimane, has called on Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to come clean about the potential of a nationwide electricity blackout, after a Sunday newspaper report claimed that power utility, Eskom, had been carrying out simulations to assess how systems would function when the country is plunged into darkness.

Maimane’s response comes after an article in CityPress yesterday claimed that the state owned parastatal had been conducting tests under the codename, Exercise Breaking Dawn, which reportedly took place last Monday.

According to the article, the test included how the matter would be relayed to the media and public, as well as emergency producers on how to respond to such an event. Key people involved with the drill included managers, operational staff and support staff.

In a statement, Maimane said that Ramaphosa, who stated that he was not aware of any drill when asked during a questions and answers session in Parliament in March 18th, should provide “an accurate comprehensive report on the maintenance needs of power stations”  as well as the “likelihood of a blackout”.

“While business, industry and households are doing what they can to take strain off the grid, if there is a possibility of a national blackout, a report on the true state of Eskom will sensitise South Africans to what power-saving measures are needed,” he said.

“The crisis at Eskom has a severe impact on the country’s already weak economy, and in many instances, the livelihood of our people. It is therefore vital that Government and Eskom are transparent and open about the problems facing Eskom”.

Responding to the article, government spokesperson, Donald Liphoko, said that a total blackout would only take place if stage four load-shedding is to be implanted, adding that such a level had never been reached before and that “we have never even come close to that.”

Meanwhile, the paper further claims that it has seen a seven page document, dated March 17th, relating to drill, which had been sent out to executive committee members, power station managers, emergency response units and management committee members, having been drawn-up a week after Maimane had submitted his concerns to Ramaphosa in writing.

When contacted by the paper for comment, Ramaphosa’s spokesperson, Ronnie Mamoepa, said that the Deputy President maintained that he was not aware of the drill.

 

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