Stage 4 load shedding means ‘gross incompetence’ at Eskom, says former CEO

Former acting Eskom CEO Koko Matshela.

Former acting Eskom CEO Koko Matshela.

Matshela Koko has been outspoken about what he sees as the utility’s failings since he left.

The former head of generation and one-time acting group chief executive officer (CEO) at Eskom, Matshela Koko, has taken to Twitter to share his view that only human error can be blamed for the recent escalation to Stage 4 load shedding, which was announced earlier on Monday.

This is the first time South Africa has experienced the last, most severe stage of load shedding since 2008.

According to Koko, the fact that Eskom is short of 4,000MW means it is “failing to meet a peak demand of 27,000MW when it has the installed capacity of 45,000MW”.

The former top Eskom exec said this was an indication that 40% of the utility’s power-generating capacity is unavailable, which could only be attributed to one thing – “gross incompetency” at the top of the beleaguered company.

Since leaving Eskom, Koko has earned a reputation for being outspoken about the goings on at his former place of employment.

While he now said load shedding was the result of incompetence, he had previously called it a “diversion”, alleging the power utility did have the generating capacity and that the “real problem for Eskom is the IPPs”.

READ MORE: Business chamber asks Nersa to stop all new IPPs

The company’s use of independent power providers (IPPs) has been controversial. The 27 contracts Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe signed with IPPs have been met with severe criticism from bodies including unions, the EFF, and the Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber.

Koko refused to sign further power purchase agreements with IPPs due to what he saw as their detrimental impact on Eskom while he was acting CEO, which led to a two-year standstill that Radebe ended with the signing of the 27 contracts earlier this year.

Koko has been so outspoken that Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan has asked Eskom managers who were no longer employed at the company to refrain from commenting on developments at the energy provider, in what was most likely a reference to Koko.

“Leave us alone to do our work,” he requested.

At around 1pm, Eskom announced that the rotational load shedding it first notified South Africans of on Sunday, and which they said this morning would take place from 9am until 10pm, has now moved from Stage 2 to Stage 4.

The power utility said in a statement the reason behind this is that they had lost an additional six generating units since this morning “unexpectedly”.

Stage 4 is the severest form of load shedding and could mean blackouts with no warning and outside of the usual schedule. It is a sign that a total national blackout could be imminent, as it is the utility’s “last resort” in terms of attempting to avoid this.

(Additional reporting by Moneyweb)

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