18/06/2018 07:45 SAST | Updated 18/06/2018 07:45 SAST

Gordhan: I Had To Intervene To Prevent Load Shedding

Pravin Gordhan says he intervened in Eskom's wage dispute as load shedding would be detrimental to the economy.

Pravin Gordhan at a South Africa Communist Party rally in Durban, South Africa, April 22, 2017.
Rogan Ward / Reuters
Pravin Gordhan at a South Africa Communist Party rally in Durban, South Africa, April 22, 2017.

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan intervened in the wage dispute between Eskom and its workers to avoid load shedding, which he said would negatively affect the economy, Business Day reported.

A one-day strike by workers last week, following a breakdown in wage negotiations, resulted in sabotage to Eskom infrastructure, which led to load shedding. Workers protested after Eskom offered no wage increase this year due to its strained finances.

According to Eyewitness News, it could take up to 10 days to stabilise the power grid. But the power utility's Dikatso Mothae reportedly said work is expected to continue at Eskom from Monday and "things are expected to normalise".

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said on Twitter that load shedding had been avoided on Sunday, but people were still urged to save electricity.

On Friday, Gordhan reportedly stepped in, meeting with Unions the National Union of Metalworkers SA (Numsa), the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) and Solidarity, according to The Citizen.

It reportedly agreed that negotiations would resume immediately and that Eskom would not return to the table with its 0 percent offer. It was also agreed that operations would resume immediately and that the parties would begin to talk about other issues affecting Eskom's stability.

According to Business Day, Gordhan visited Eskom facilities on Saturday to assess the situation.

He told the paper in an interview: "What we are learning is that recovery from these kinds of events does not happen instantaneously. It is not just a question of putting on a switch and thinking that things will just start. There are a whole series of things that need to be done."

He reportedly said his intervention was warranted to avoid load shedding.

He reportedly said he wanted to avoid "massive load shedding crisis which would impact negatively on the economy, as we have seen before.

"This was an intervention. In the current environment where there is so much clearing up to do, I think one should not be too constrained about interacting with boards and management in a proactive way if the situation demands it — provided that you are not dictating the wrong things," he said.