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President Ramaphosa Cancels His Travel to Davos amid South Africa’s Energy Crisis

The crisis has resulted in daily power outages ranging from eight to eleven hours across the country

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SOUTH AFRICA: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has postponed his trip to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland as South Africa battles an unprecedented energy crisis. The crisis has resulted in daily power outages ranging from eight to eleven hours across the country.

Offices, hospitals, factories, and tens of thousands of small companies are being forced to close, while outages are also causing an increase in crime, disruptions in traffic, and significant waste as food supply systems collapse. As a result, anger is building.

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On Monday, protesters in Johannesburg’s eastern suburbs blocked highways with burning tires, while a newspaper in the Soweto township featured the headline “Unplugged” on its front page and listed dozens of struggling neighbourhood businesses.

Eskom, the South African utility that generates electricity, has apologized to its customers. However, the company has not stated when extra power will be added to the national system.

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The largest industrialized economy in Africa has been experiencing a worsening power shortage for a number of years. Analysts attribute the gap to corruption, a lack of competent workers, and an aging fleet of primarily coal-fueled power plants.

A high-powered group led by Ramaphosa was scheduled to travel to Davos on Monday in a move to draw in foreign investment. Magwenya announced that he would now attend a series of meetings geared toward fixing the energy crisis.

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On Monday, the South African rand fell as investor worries increased.

There doesn’t seem to be much hope for the crisis’s speedy resolution. Some extra power may be imported from nearby nations, but using diesel-fueled generators in an emergency will only be viable if Eskom is given enormous sums of money.

It will take years for other improvements that experts and policymakers have recognized as essential, such as the greater use of renewable energy sources, to make a noticeable difference. However, the alleged criminal networks within the power generation system may be the most challenging issue.

André de Ruyter poison case

Police are looking into an alleged plot to kill André de Ruyter, the CEO of Eskom after he drank coffee that was possibly cyanide-laced.

De Ruyter oversaw an internal, company-wide crackdown on corruption and organized criminal activity, including sabotage of infrastructure at Eskom plants, after officially entering office in January 2020. He is leaving his position on March 31 and has now resigned, citing a lack of political support.

The problem over the past ten years has also been made worse by a string of poor choices made by prominent members of the African National Congress (ANC), which has been in power since 1994. 

Many observers point to Gwede Mantashe’s opposition to private energy production as well as to solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources as a significant recent influence.

Ramaphosa will become even more unstable as a result of the crisis, despite winning re-election as the ANC’s leader for a second five-year term in December.

The “farmgate” controversy, which involved between $580,000 and $5 million in foreign funds discovered concealed at Ramaphosa’s private game farm, rocked his campaign hard in June. 

A parliamentary vote prevented the 70-year-old moderate from being removed from office. However, he continues to face charges of possessing unreported foreign currency, tax evasion, and squandering public funds.

In accordance with South Africa’s democratic structure, Ramaphosa will now guide the ANC into the 2024 national elections. Ramaphosa is still likely to continue serving as president in any coalition administration. Although the party is predicted to lose its long-standing majority, partly as a result of the power crisis.

Also Read: South Africa Reforms Electricity Act

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