DA wants Gordhan to consider bill to end Eskom's monopoly

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will write to Public Enterprise Minister Pravin Gordhan to consider the party's proposed bill that seeks to end Eskom's monopoly in the electricity space.

This is according to a statement issued by DA MP Natasha Mazzone on Sunday, the party wants to meet with the minister to discuss the country's electricity crisis.

In October, Mazzone and DA leader Mmusi Maimane announced plans to submit to Parliament a private member's bill known as the Independent System and Market Operator (ISMO) Bill. The bill was first introduced by the energy minister in 2012 to deal with Eskom's conflict of interest as a generator and distributor of electricity.

The bill was withdrawn in 2014, but the DA has since reworked the bill. If it is passed, Eskom will be responsible for generation, and not distribution, as is currently the case. 

Eskom started implementing load shedding this week as a result of planned and unplanned maintenance of power plants. On Sunday it announced in a statement that load shedding would be implemented from 08:00 to 22:00.

"Cahora Bassa hydropower plant is still supplying 700 MW less to the grid as a result of a damaged transmission line, which occurred late on Wednesday. Over and above these challenges, we are experiencing low diesel reserves due to the continued pressure on the national grid resulting in excessive usage of open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs).

"In addition, the need to build emergency water and diesel resources to limit the load shedding possibility or magnitude thereof in the following week also remains," the power utility said in a statement.

In response, Mazzone punted the DA's bill in the party's statement.

"The shortage of coal at several power stations, and the resultant effect of power blackouts, proves that Eskom’s monopoly on power production and supply needs to be broken up," she said. "The Independent System and Market Operator Bill introduced by the DA seeks to achieve exactly this and save citizens money by ensuring that they have more options with regards to purchasing electricity."

She called on Gordhan to "act in the best interest" of South Africans, by tackling the electricity crisis.

The DA will also write to the Eskom board chair Jabu Mabuza, requesting him to submit supplementary affidavits to the DA’s charges against those implicated in the "coal catastrophe".

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