Cabinet mulls over blackouts

Waghied Misbach and Reuters

Waghied Misbach and Reuters

President Thabo Mbeki met his cabinet ministers yesterday to plan for their last lekgotla this week, but spent most of the time discussing the electricity crisis.

All the cabinet could come up with was the promise of a new plan to deal with the situation.

Facing persistent and often hostile questions from journalists on the power crisis, cabinet spokesman Themba Maseko said it was not yet possible to provide details of the government's plan.

Maseko said Eskom's chief executive Jacob Maroga had briefed the cabinet about the state of power supply and the utility's plans to deal with the problem.

Maseko said the government wants to ensure that citizens were better informed about load shedding.

Eskom said the 14,2percent tariff hike granted by the National Energy Regulator last month would make it hard to carry out plans to ease the supply crunch.

Outraged howls greeted the utility's proposed 18,7percent increase, but Eskom said the 14,2percent increase meant it would have to borrow more to meet rising fuel costs and fund new plants. Eskom plans to spend R300billion to boost power capacity over the next five years.

"The current electricity prices are unsustainable and will result in steeper increases in the future," said Eskom's Bongani Nqwababa.

lSee page 10.