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Political parties have given mixed reactions to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the government will be amending Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act for the energy sector. This means that private companies have permission to generate up to 100 megawatts of electricity and sell it without a license.
The announcement comes as the country is currently experiencing rolling blackouts.
In terms of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s licensing requirements, private electricity generators can produce power from one Megawatt up to 100 Megawatts.
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Some political organisations have welcomed the news. “We do welcome the President’s announcement on the alignment of the Schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulations Act, as it will allow private companies and other independent power producers to be able to produce more electricity and sell it to the grid as well,” says African National Congress’ spokesperson Pule Mabe.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) says it is pleased with the decision. “We are pleased that the president has finally woken up and has decided with speed to amend the Schedule 2 of the Act. The DA has been banging on about this for years, in fact, the president has been talking about it since February and it has taken a crisis in electricity supply to bring him to this stage where he has to move with speed and he has to because the nation is in crisis and the private sector must be brought on board, immediately,” says DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises Ghaleb Chachalia.
The Freedom Front Plus says no economy can grow without stable electricity. “The collapse of Eskom is detrimental to the South African economy. We welcome the announcement by President Ramaphosa that schedule two of the Electricity Act will be amended, this should have been done a long time ago. It is unacceptable that for more than a decade it has been well-known that Eskom is collapsing and that there is a looming energy crisis,” says FF Plus Wouter Wessels.
The National Freedom Party says this decision should have been made earlier. “As the National Freedom Party welcome today’s announcement by the president, however, we feel that it is a little too late, a lot of damage has been done, a lot of businesses have been forced to shut down, people have been losing their jobs, actually the lives of the ordinary people of South Africa has been turned upside down due to the challenges at Eskom. Our belief is that the president should have acted sooner rather than later because Eskom issues are not that of today,” says NFP Secretary Canaan Mdletshe.
Al jamah-ah says the decision will boost economic growth. “Al jamah-ah welcomes the decision by the president on the main schedule two of the regulation mainly as it allows businesses to self-generate electricity to 100 megawatts. It may indeed boost economic growth by allowing small business operations to help provide energy for the grid,” says spokesperson Advocate Shameemah Salie.
Privatisation of Eskom
Whilst some parties have accused the government of privatising the embattled power utility.”When you want to install generation capacity outside of Eskom, Nersa must give you permission. You generate electricity and connect the national grid. Ramaphosa announced that the generation projects will be allowed up to 100 megawatts from 10. So, it’s in a sense the manufactured crisis and deliberate collapse of Eskom is back door privatisation of Eskom,” says EFF spokesperson Vuyani Pambo.
The Congress of People says the ANC government has destroyed Eskom. Spokesperson Dennis Bloem says, “What President Ramaphosa announced today, was partial privatisation of Eskom. It is very clear that Eskom doesn’t have the capacity anymore to supply energy to the people of this country. People in villages and suburbs, the economy is suffering under this load shedding.”
And the African Transformation Movement (ATM) agrees. Spokesperson, Zama Ntshona says this will see the ordinary people suffer in South Africa. “What disturbs us the most about this particular announcement, is that its long-term strategy is to truly do two things. One de-value Eskom; and number two, it will actually get to a point where a common man suffers in South Africa.”
The announcement was described as an important move in providing a stable power supply, unblocking electricity bottlenecks.