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Ramaphosa Vows to Solve Power Cuts

FILE - Locals are illuminated by car lights as they walk on the dark streets during frequent power outages from South African utility Eskom, caused by its aging coal-fired plants, at Lawley towship, South Africa July 13, 2022.

The South African government will soon propose new strategies to deal with the nation's greatest power crisis to date, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday.

In an address to the South African Communist Party (SACP) conference, Ramaphosa said the government needs to "use every available means and remove every regulatory obstacle to bring extra electricity onto the grid as soon as possible."

"In the coming days we will be announcing additional measures that we need to take to address the current electricity crisis," Ramaphosa added. The SACP is an ally of the governing African National Congress party that Ramaphosa leads.

South Africa has been experiencing intermittent power cuts by faltering state utility company Eskom for more than ten years, but this year's disruptions are anticipated to hit a record high.

Late month Eskom started implementing what are known as "Stage 6" power cuts for only the second time in its history, blaming a strike over pay for hampering efforts to bring malfunctioning power units back online.

Eskom has since agreed a salary deal with workers and the level of power cuts has been lowered, but opposition parties and a business lobby group have called for an urgent intervention.

Meanwhile, power outages, the COVID-19 pandemic and a five-year high in inflation are all putting a strain on small businesses and citizens.

Ramaphosa added at the SACP conference that he would on Saturday lead a team of ministers and officials to one of Eskom's troubled power stations to have talks with workers, trade unions and managers.

Explaining why the country needed to move further away from a monopoly model of electricity supply, he said: "When Eskom fails, the country is thrown into darkness as we are now."