Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Blackout crisis: states comment 'nonsensical'

Henri du Plessis
January 29 2008 at 06:16PM

he government was lying when it said it had been caught unawares by the electricity crisis, a prominent energy researcher charges.

And ID leader Patricia de Lille is to move for a vote of no confidence in President Thabo Mbeki and his Cabinet during the first sitting of Parliament in February.

The government's claims that South Africa was "the victim of its own success" were nonsensical and so were suggestions that the crisis had been unforeseen, said independent energy researcher Andrew Kenny.

He pointed out that the government's own economic growth forecasts had been as high as 6 percent before the crisis developed.

'President Mbeki and his Cabinet have failed the South African people'
"If they truly believed that, why did they not plan for it?"

"The truth is that our economic growth had never attained that. It got to 4 percent at the most. And still it outgrew the country's ability to produce electricity.

"The government has to take full responsibility for the debacle and admit that it failed badly. The fact that they did not plan for the 6 percent growth they themselves predicted shows they did not believe it themselves.

"As for claiming that they had been caught unawares, that is also nonsense. It is on record that they had been warned about it well ahead of time."

Kenny said Eskom, too, had to shoulder blame for not properly advising the government, preferring to keep quiet to ensure that the bottom line looked good.

"They are the electricity experts in this country. The department of minerals and energy affairs know nothing about it.

"But building new power stations makes the bottom line look bad and they kept quiet."

Kenny said Eskom boss Jacob Maroga was not to blame as he had taken the reins only about a year ago.

"His predecessor and the top executives at the time, however, got away with it. They have got their money and they are not suffering," he said.

De Lille said on Monday that the ID would move a motion of no confidence in Mbeki and his Cabinet on Tuesday, February 12, at the first sitting of Parliament after the State of the Nation Address.

She cited Section 102 (2) of the constitution, which stipulated that if the National Assembly, in a vote supported by a majority of its members, passed a motion of no confidence in the president then the president, cabinet ministers and deputy ministers had to resign.

"President Mbeki and his Cabinet have failed the South African people," said De Lille.

"The failure to plan, despite documented warnings almost 10 years ago, to avert a national electricity crisis has already cost our country billions of rand in lost production and tax revenue, which threatens the job security and livelihoods of millions of South Africans.

"Service delivery and the provision of basic needs will be severely hampered due to the failure of government to ensure we continue to have an affordable and steady flow of energy," De Lille said.

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