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South Africa’s Ramaphosa to Return Home Instead of Attend UNGA Due to Electrical Crisis

© Sputnik / Алексей Никольский / Go to the mediabankSouth African President Cyril Ramaphosa at a BRICS group of country meeting in July 2018. File photo.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa at a BRICS group of country meeting in July 2018. File photo. - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.09.2022
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With his country beset by a growing energy crisis, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has elected to return home instead of staying in the United States for the United Nations General Assembly meetings later this week.
"The president will no longer be attending the UNGA due to the unfolding energy crisis at home," Vincent Magwenya, a spokesperson for the South African president, told Sputnik on Monday. "The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation will now lead the South African delegation and deliver the South African statement."
Ramaphosa traveled to Washington, DC, last week to meet with US President Joe Biden to discuss a range of issues, including the country’s energy crisis. Ramaphosa used the occasion to speak out against attempts by Washington to change his government’s neutral position on the Ukraine crisis and condemn Russia’s special operation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attempted the same last month in Pretoria and was trounced by his South African counterpart, who told him to be “equally concerned” with the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian authorities.
Ramaphosa’s decision comes after state-owned utility Eskom announced on Sunday there would be "a high level of load shedding this week,” which translates to several hours of power outages per day.
The ongoing crisis initially reached “Phase 6” on a scale of 1 to 8 in June, designating a critical situation in which scheduled lengthy power outages are used to keep the power grid from overloading. At the time, the cooler winter months put extra demand on the grid as residents tried to keep warm, but the recent crisis was created by the failure of 45 power generation units in just a week’s time, which must now be fixed.

"Phase 6 load shedding will remain in effect until enough generating units are back up and running," Eskom's chief operating officer, Jan Oberholzer, told AFP. He called on South African individuals and businesses to limit power usage by turning off lights at night and avoiding using water pumps during peak hours.

Eskom’s leadership has long been accused of corruption and mismanagement. A report delivered in April, the product of a three-year-long investigation, recommended criminal charges be brought against Eskom’s entire board from 2014 for “irregular procurement in breach of both the law and Eskom policies, and ... fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the face of legal instruments that enjoined them to act otherwise."
Dennis Bloem, a spokesperson for the small left-wing Congress of the People (COPE) party, on Monday demanded Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter and Eskom’s entire board resign.

“The time has come that Eskom CEO Andre De Ruyter and the entire board must resign immediately,” Bloem said, according to SABC. “It is very clear that they don’t have a plan to address this crippling load shedding. We are tired of the empty promises from President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Pravin Gordhan.”

“It is very clear that Andre De Ruyter, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Pravin Gordhan don’t understand the devastation that this load shedding is causing to the already struggling economy of this country. Load shedding is a serious disruption to our lives. De Ruyter and the entire Eskom Bard must go now,” he added.
South Africa gets 80% of its electricity from coal.
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