South African protestors Wednesday marched in opposition of the power cuts that have ravaged the country’s economy over the past year. The protest, staged by South Africa’s main opposition party known as the Democratic Alliance, roundly criticized President Cyril Ramaphosa for his handling of the “loadshedding” crisis. Protestors called for South Africans to remove the long-ruling political party, African National Congress (ANC), from office in 2024.
For over a decade, the South African government and its power utility, Eskom, have implemented power cuts to manage demand on its strained grid. This process known as loadshedding in South Africa. Over the past year Eskom has increased loadshedding exponentially, with daily scheduled blackouts that have lasted as long as ten hours. Brought on by aged and failing coal plants, mismanagement and corruption, loadshedding has had a devastating effect on South Africa’s economy. Loadshedding has caused major damages to the agricultural sector, steeply increased consumer costs and severely disrupted South Africans’ lives.
The ANC’s and Eskom’s management of the energy crisis has drawn intense criticism from opposition parties and South African citizens alike. The Democratic Alliance recently filed for an injunction against a proposed 18.65 percent energy tariff increase. Similarly, South Africa’s largest opposition parties and trade unions filed a joint constitutional challenge against the government’s loadshedding scheme and tariff hikes.
Ramaphosa in a recent newsletter promised to purchase power from neighboring countries and seek investment into new energy-generating capacity. At the same time Ramaphosa cautioned South Africans to “be realistic about [South Africa’s] challenges and about what it is going to take to fix them.” Ramaphosa said, “While we all desperately want to, we cannot end load shedding overnight.”