Steenhuisen sceptical of Ramaphosa’s ‘sudden sabotage claims’

John Steenhuisen and Ivan Meyer address the media, 17 November 2019. Picture: Tracy Lee Stark

The DA leader says his party plans to use parliament as a forum to make the president get the bottom of claims that Eskom was ‘sabotaged’.

Democratic Alliance (DA) interim leader John Steenhuisen says the party will try and get to the bottom of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claims, made on Wednesday, that the ongoing bout of load shedding was partially caused by sabotage.

“We will be placing a monthly written parliamentary question to the president on the progress on tracking down, charging and prosecution of those responsible for the sudden ‘sabotage’ claims,” Steenhuisen said.

“We want to see something…” he added.

Ramaphosa created a stir with his talk of sabotage at a media briefing he hosted following his visit to Eskom HQ Megawatt Park.

READ MORE: Ramaphosa says sabotage killed Eskom’s power

This claim has not been made before, and has not been cited by Eskom itself as one of the reasons for load shedding in any previous communication.

Ramaphosa said sabotage was one of the factors that led to the latest round of rolling blackouts, along with wet coal, breakdowns at power generating facilities and system issues.

According to the president, about 2,000MW in lost power capacity was due to the alleged sabotage, which amounts to about two stages of load shedding, though it happened before the utility moved to stage 6.

He said “someone” switched off instruments they shouldn’t have, resulting in power loss.

“I have instructed that the sabotage be investigated and the must immediately work with the South African police service and our intelligence services to find out exactly how anyone with Eskom could have disconnected the instrument that led to the loss of 2,000 megawatts,” he said.

Steenhuisen is not the only person on Twitter who has questioned the sabotage claims, with critics taking to social media to accuse the president of avoiding responsibility, “incompetence” and “weak leadership”.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman. Background reporting, Kaunda Selisho)

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