Bloemfontein residents have rested from the threat of load shedding and this may very well be the case for the remainder of the week. This is according to the Centlec spokesperson, Lele Mamatu, who confirmed that Eskom has not yet provided an indication that there will be load-shedding in the city today and for the remainder of the week.
This comes after several parts of the city experienced load shedding over the weekend. Mamatu assured Bloemfontein residents that these recent power cuts have nothing to do with Mangaung’s Centlec division owing money to Eskom but rather that Eskom is facing problems at national level and this has affected the rest of the country as well as Bloemfontein. Problems Mamatu referred to include the fact that the power utility has since last week been in talks with employees, who went on strike following an announcement that there would be no salary increases this year. The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), the National Union of Mineworkers as well as Solidarity have rejected Eskom’s 0% increase offer, with Numsa and NUM demanding salary hikes of between 9 to 15%, while Solidarity simply stated that Eskom should revise its offer to the employees.
Following the tension with employees , Eskom then began cutting power supply in some areas of the country on Thursday. Over the weekend, Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, called for a meeting between employees and the stated unions and also called for the reopening of negotiations so that relationships and operations at the utility are normalised as soon as possible. However, Gordhan’s appeal was not enough to spare South Africans from blackouts, which persisted over the weekend and were felt in all parts of the country, including in several areas in Bloemfontein. While Eskom previously stated that it rejects the union’s 15% offer, it stated this morning that it will resume talks with the relevant stakeholders and negotiate a new deal in an effort to stop power cuts and restore production. Meanwhile, Eskom spokesperson, Khulu Phasiwe, stated that the Eskom team will work diligently to ensure that recovery operations are underway at all the generating units and that there will hopefully be no power cuts this week. He also stated that the recovery work is expected to be completed within the next 7 to 10 days. “The power system will remain vulnerable during this period,” Phasiwe said. Meanwhile, the power utility’s board will meet today to go ahead with talks about possible wage offers ahead of their meeting with the unions tomorrow to resume wage negotiations.