Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen reacted to a story in The Citizen on how Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) deputy president Floyd Shivambu had attacked him on Twitter.
The attack was “like being savaged by a dead sheep”, he tweeted.
Shivambu accused Steenhuisen of having a “shallow” understanding of affairs at Eskom after the DA interim leader called for some municipalities to be able to buy power directly from independent power providers (IPPs).
This after a press conference outside Eskom headquarters Megawatt Park on Tuesday at which Steenhuisen called on President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister of Minerals and Energy Gwede Mantashe to allow certain municipalities to bypass Eskom and purchase power directly from independent power providers (IPPs).
“The DA is part of the lobbyists for the irrational IPPs which have no capacity to collectively even produce 5% of the electricity needed. The owners of IPPs are making a lot of money at the expense of Eskom,” said Shivambu.
This highlights how the two biggest opposition parties have opposing ideas on how to fix Eskom – with the DA calling for greater privatisation by way of power producers other than Eskom being allowed to provide power directly to municipalities. This is a call echoed by the Free Market Foundation, and various analysts.
The EFF, meanwhile, has been fiercely opposed to the deals government has signed with IPPs and is among the voices – others including the National Union of Metal Workers (Numsa), former Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko, and an organisation called Transform RSA – who believe that the use of IPPs is expensive, unsustainable and would drive the costs of electricity too high.
Numsa and Transform RSA teamed up in 2018 to stop former energy minister Jeff Radebe from signing IPP contracts, including ones which government said would create 60,000 jobs and introduce renewable energy to SA’s grid.
READ MORE: Renewable energy deal is delayed – again
The EFF said in a statement it believes that Ramaphosa and his allies were implementing load shedding as a purposeful attempt to “undermine the power generation capacity of Eskom” so that more deals with IPPs could be made, an apparent conspiracy theory which appears to have gained significant traction on Twitter.
At the press conference, Steenhuisen said section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act (4 of 2006) would allow IPPs to bypass Eskom.
“Contrary to the president’s views, this can be done overnight and would go a long way to resolving energy shortages and pressure on the grid.
“Introducing IPPs into the mix is now a necessity. In fact, right now Minister Mantashe is sitting with at least seventeen sections 34 applications for private generation and purchase of electricity on his desk waiting to be signed – from municipalities, mines and corporations.
“The president must intervene and ensure these are acceded to within the next 48 hours,” he said.
The EFF, meanwhile, wants Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan and the entire Eskom board to step down and be replaced by a team of “engineers and experts, including those who have ended load shedding before”.
UPDATE: This story has been updated with DA interim leader John Steenhuisen’s response to EFF second-in-command Floyd Shivambu’s tweet about him.