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Eskom Slightly Easing Power Cuts

FILE: Pinkie Sebitlo warms herself near a coal stove during frequent power outages from South African utility Eskom, in Soweto, South Africa. Taken June 23, 2022.

South Africa's state-owned power utility Eskom said it would shorten power cuts as 14 generators come back on tap this week, but electricity shortages look set to continue at least into 2024.

The past week has seen some of the worst power cuts on record in Africa's most industrialized nation, at least six hours a day for most households and often as much as 10 hours.

But even while Eskom said that from Tuesday power cuts would be reduced slightly, two opposition parties that attended a meeting with Eskom officials over the weekend said they had been told outages would persist well into next year.

Eskom said Tuesday the pattern would "Stage 5" from 1600 local time until 0500 the following morning following a lesser cut during the day.

Eskom's outgoing CEO Andre de Ruyter made a submission to political party leaders during an emergency meeting called by Ramaphosa on Sunday night.

"They told us what the plan is to procure new energy [generating capacity] and money, and the core of the message is that we will be saddled with power cuts even after 2024," Pieter Groenewald, leader of the right wing Freedom Front Plus, told Reuters, echoing a statement by the Marxist EFF on the meeting.

The company implemented power cuts on more than 200 days last year, the most in a calendar year. The power shortages are a major source of frustration for voters ahead of 2024 elections that could see the governing African National Congress lose its majority in parliament for the first time.