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Continuing power shortages afflict large parts of South Africa

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South Africa’s power shortage worsened on Friday as large parts of the country were gripped by loadshedding.

Stage 2 rotational loadshedding was implemented from 09:00 a.m. and was likely to continue until 22:00 p.m. as a result of loss of additional power generation units overnight, said electricity utility Eskom, which provides more than 95 percent of the electricity consumed in the country.

Stage 2 calls for 2,000 MW to be rotationally loadshed nationally at a given period.

This was the most serious load shedding this year. Previously, Stage 1 load shedding, which allows for up to 1,000 MW of the national load to be shed once a day, had been implemented several times.

If the situation worsens, Stage 3, which allows up to 4,000 MW to be shed, will be implemented.

Load shedding is implemented rotationally as a last resort to protect the power system from a total collapse, Eskom said.

"We continue to appeal to residents and businesses to use electricity sparingly during this period.

"Please switch off geysers as well as all non-essential lighting and electricity appliances to assist in reducing demand," the state-run parastatal said.

The generation and distribution of electricity in the country has been constrained because Eskom is running short of coal, which the utility relies on to generate power stations, raising fears that similar loadshedding is on the way as in 2014 and 2015 when frequent loadshedding gripped the country.

Since 2008, South Africa has suffered from power insufficiency which has led to economic losses of an estimated 300 billion rand (about 23 billion U.S. dollars).


South Africans face high risk of power cuts over weekend

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African power utility Eskom on Friday asked the general public to continue using electricity sparingly, cautioning about a possible risk of load shedding.

"Eskom is currently implementing stage two of load shedding from 09:00 to 10 pm today (Friday) due to unplanned outages," Eskom’s national spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said, adding that the risk of power cuts remains high for both Saturday and Sunday.

"Despite demand being generally lower over the weekend, the probability of load shedding is high as a result of a shortage of capacity," he said.

There are eight stages of load shedding in South Africa, allowing 1000 MW to 8000 MW to be shed from the national grid.

Phasiwe blamed the weekend planned load shedding on required infrastructure maintenance.

Generation plant is out on planned maintenance and there is a higher than expected number of units on unplanned maintenance due to technical faults. Cahora Bassa hydropower plant is still supplying 700 MW less to the grid as a result of a damaged transmission line which occurred on Wednesday, he said.

Eskom said it is working around the clock to ensure that the situation is stabilized.

The utility has been battling severe coal shortages in recent weeks and recently said that load shedding remains a possibility for the rest of the year.

Phakamani Hadebe, CEO of Eskom, said on Wednesday when releasing financial results:

"The past six months have been a difficult period for Eskom ... with steady decline on coal levels threatening the firm’s ability to keep the lights on."

Jabu Mabuza, chairman of the Eskom board, also stated:

"Eskom is in a state of severe financial difficulty.

"In its current state Eskom is not sustainable."

It is feared the country will be facing regular electricity outages throughout next year.


Cape Town city South Africa relaxes water restrictions

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African City of Cape Town, once on the brink of becoming the world’s first metropolis to run out of water, announced on Thursday it will lower water restrictions starting from Saturday.

Water restrictions and the associated tariffs will be lowered from Level 5 to Level 3 recovery restrictions, City Mayor Dan Plato said.

This means that the usage of water per person per day will be increased from 70 litres to 105 litres, or from 500 million litres to 650 million litres of collective usage per day.

Tariffs will also be lowered to Level 3 which means that if residents use less than 6,000 litres per month, they can expect to pay 35.5 percent less, City Mayor Plato said.

Meanwhile, the 40-percent restriction on water usage applicable to businesses has also been removed but the sector is strongly encouraged to continue implementing and investigating the further efficient use of water in their operations, Plato said.

This decision was made following the National Department of Water and Sanitation’s latest water assessment, according to Plato.

Restrictions remain on a fairly strict recovery level as a precaution to deal with rainfall uncertainty in 2019 and 2020, he said.

The city views 2019 as a recovery year after having successfully emerged from a three-year unprecedented drought.

After months of good rain, the city has seen the average dam level reaching over 70 percent, from a historical low of about 16 percent in the beginning of the year.

Based on the national government’s assessment of the hydrological year, a saving of between 10 percent and 20 percent for urban water users has been proposed.

However, the city has decided to implement a more cautious 30-percent saving to help with the recovery of the dams and to cater for the uncertainty that exists around rainfall volumes and frequency in 2019, according to Plato.

"We encourage Cape Town’s water ambassadors to maintain their water-wise approach during the recovery phase and as the metro moves towards becoming a more water-sensitive city in the near future," the mayor said.

On Jan. 1 this year, the city began to implement Level 6 water restrictions amid predictions that the city might be the first major metropolis in the world to run out of water.

The city then made an emergency plan to implement Day Zero in March.

Day Zero refers to the time when dams suppling water to the city would run dry, the city’s taps would be switched off and water would have to be collected from designated points.

In September, the city lowered water restrictions from Level 6 to Level 5 thanks to substantial rainfall.

As the second-most populous urban area in South Africa after Johannesburg, Cape Town is the capital of the Western Cape province and the seat of South Africa’s Parliament, with a population of nearly 4 million.

In 2014, the city was named the best place in the world to visit by both the American New York Times and the British Daily Telegraph.

South African court dismisses application to set aside report on land reform

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- The Western Cape High Court in South Africa on Friday dismissed lobby group AfriForum’s application to set aside a parliamentary report on land expropriation without compensation.

Meting out the ruling, the court said a debate on the report can go ahead in the National Assembly before adoption.

Earlier this month, AgriForum approached the court, seeking an order to prevent the report from being passed onto the National Assembly for debate and adoption.

This came after Parliament’s Joint Constitutional Review Committee (JCRC) adopted the report in favor of amending the Constitution to allow land expropriation without compensation.

Specifically, the committee recommends that section 25 of the Constitution be amended to make it explicitly clear that expropriation of land without compensation by the state in the public interest should be one mechanism to address the injustices of the past, inflicted on the majority of South Africans.

The JCRC adopted its report following a series of extensive public hearings from June 26 to August 4, as well as a number of workshops and discussions in Parliament.

AgriForum filed an application to the court after its request to have the report set aside was rejected by Parliament, which reciprocated by filing a legal affidavit to counter AgriForum’s court bid.

Parliament argues that AfriForum is deliberately trying to frustrate Parliament’s legislative process.

The JCRC report, wich will be referring to the National Assembly (Lower House) and National Council of Provinces (Upper House) for consideration, is an interim step, similar to a bill, parliamentary spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.

"It is not final in effect. It may be accepted or it may not," said Mothabo.

The ongoing land reform has sparked a heated debate in South Africa.

Opponents argue that the process will drive away white farmers, kill jobs and threaten food security.

But the government has assured that it will pursue the land reform without destabilizing the agricultural sector, endangering food security in the country, or undermining economic growth and job creation.

South African police probing mob justice attacks that killed 11

JOHANNESBURG South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African police are investigating separate incidents of mob justice attacks that have left at least 11 people dead and properties burnt in Sondela informal settlement in Rustenburg, North West Province.

The bodies of the deceased were discovered at various locations within the community in the past week.

Police spokesperson Brigadier Sabata Mokgwabone told Xinhua on Friday those murdered were accused of being involved in criminal activities within the community.

"We are still investigating including determining the motive of the incidents, but we suspect that victims were attacked after being accused of committing crimes," he said.

Police have made six arrests in connection with the Sondela killings.

While some made their court appearance on Friday, others accused will be in court next Monday.

Criminal justice experts blamed community’s lack of confidence in the criminal justice system for escalating mob justice attacks.

Shadrack Gutto, a professor at University of South Africa, told Xinhua:

"Part of the problem is that people call it mob justice and I call mob injustice because it is illegal.

"People must understand that you cannot carry out violence and call it mob justice."

Gutto said frustrated communities believe that taking the law into their own hands is their only solution to resolving crime.

"People do it because the criminal justice system is weak.

"People are frustrated, they don’t know what to do with crime. Instead of reporting a crime to police, they identify the person they think commit it."

Over 840 killings recorded by the police in 2017 were associated with mob justice in South Africa.


Parts of Southern Africa suffer from by crippling power blackouts

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa signs National Minimum
Wage Bill into law

South Africans remain divided on Recommended land amendment
to the Constitution



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