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Eskom challenges 'serious and complicated', Ramaphosa tells voters — but promises they will be resolved

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
President Cyril Ramaphosa campaigning in the Western Cape last week.
President Cyril Ramaphosa campaigning in the Western Cape last week.
Image: Esa Alexander

“So, you allow Eskom employees to connect your electricity illegally?”

This was the question ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa asked throngs of people gathered at the Sol Tsotetsi sports complex in Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg, on Friday.

The community responded by saying: “Yes.”

Ramaphosa then asked the community why they did that, and they told him: “We are unemployed.”

During his second leg of a local government election campaign on Friday, Ramaphosa decided to speak openly about the electricity issues plaguing the country.

“We are going to fix the electricity issue. The issue of electricity is serious and complicated. The government inherited Eskom's problems. Eskom was serving white people, and black people were using candles and paraffin stoves. When we took over in 1994, Eskom worked hard to give everyone electricity. They have made sure that 90% of people have electricity,” he said.

The problem, he said, was that the generators were over 60 years old.

“Generators in Mpumalanga and Limpopo which supply the nation are old. Now we have load-shedding all the time. There was stage 4 and ... stage 3. They say after the elections there will be no more load-shedding. Let's pray that it happens,” he said.

He said Eskom also suffered because of billions in unpaid bills.

“Some of us are connecting electricity illegally. When you do that you are doing it because you cannot afford it, or there are too many people living in the back rooms. Some of the people who work for Eskom are the ones who are given bribes to connect electricity illegally,” he said.

Ramaphosa told the community that he visited Soweto, where people were complaining about electricity. 

At this point of his campaign, a loud bang was heard and Ramaphosa said: “That's probably a transformer blowing up right now. I have seen your electricity issues and we will resolve the issues in the next coming days.

“But there are some of you who are doing illegal electricity connections. We know where you live ... We need to sit down and talk about what we really want ... because we bring the electricity, you mess it up again.”

He told the community that he was not happy with the state of their municipality.

“What makes me upset the most is the issue of sewerage. When I talk about it, I can imagine it entering people's homes. I always wonder how people live in these conditions.

“The deputy president came here and we are going to deal with it. When we go into the next elections, we are going to turn over a new page. We are going to wipe the floor with them. We are going to fix things, whether they like it or not.”

Ramaphosa told the crowd that the problems need to be corrected.

“What I am happy with is that we have started to deal with the sewerage issue. We have signed with Rand Water and the money allocated will be used accordingly.”

Ramaphosa said an estimated R7bn is needed for the project.

“I've said we need to find it so that we can fix this problem. We have started to fix these circumstances that you are living under.”

This municipality, he said, “has people who are creating these problems”.

He told the community: “If you don't vote for the ANC, where will you belong?”

Ramaphosa went on to say: “We know that there are many service delivery issues in the area, like housing and employment.”

There were plans under way to create jobs for South Africans, he said.

“We are going to build a new city. There are people who say I am dreaming but the investors are saying when construction begins, there will be jobs created. We will then fix the roads, build houses and we have already started fixing the sewerage issues.”

Ramaphosa said he would be watching closely what was happening to make sure that the issues of jobs, sewerage, houses and roads were addressed.

“You cannot live like this we want to get rid of shacks and build proper houses for our people.”

He told the community to vote for the ANC in large numbers on Monday because “the ANC is the only party that will resolve your issues”.

“Put your trust in us.”


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