Mantashe says South Africa hit stage 8 load-shedding

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe said South Africa experienced stage 8 load-shedding at the beginning of 2023.

Speaking to ENCA, Mantashe said South Africa made great progress at addressing load-shedding and resolving the energy crisis.

Mantashe’s statements echo President Cyril Ramaphosa’s claim that the ANC government is making progress in addressing the electricity crisis.

Despite persistent load-shedding returning in early January, Ramaphosa said the government is more open about the problems.

“We are becoming more transparent and forward in explaining to the nation what we are doing,” Ramaphosa said.

When quizzed about load-shedding returning on 2 January 2024, Mantashe said although power cuts returned, it was not as bad as last year.

He told eNCA that over the same period last year, South Africa experienced stage 6, stage 7, and stage 8 load-shedding.

He repeated the claim that South Africa experienced stage 8 load-shedding in January 2023 in an SABC News interview on the sidelines of the ANC birthday celebrations.

This is the first time any minister said South Africa experienced stage 8 load-shedding. Previously, Eskom and government officials denied stage 8 was implemented.

An analysis of the first two weeks showed that the intensity of load-shedding in 2024 was indeed, as the minister claimed, lower than in 2023.

In the first two weeks of 2023, Eskom implemented eleven days of load-shedding. It included stage 3 for one day, stage 4 for five days, stage 5 for a day, and stage 6 for four days.

Over the same period in 2024, Eskom implemented eleven days of load-shedding – one day of stage 1, three days of stage 2, and seven days of stage 3.

The table below shows a comparison of load-shedding over the first two weeks of 2023 and 2024.

Date Load-shedding Date Load-shedding
01-Jan-23 Stage 2 01-Jan-24
02-Jan-23 Stage 2 02-Jan-24 Stage 3
03-Jan-23 Stage 2 03-Jan-24 Stage 3
04-Jan-23 Stage 3 04-Jan-24 Stage 3
05-Jan-23 Stage 4 05-Jan-24 Stage 3
06-Jan-23 Stage 4 06-Jan-24 Stage 1
07-Jan-23 Stage 4 07-Jan-24
08-Jan-23 Stage 4 08-Jan-24
09-Jan-23 Stage 4 09-Jan-24 Stage 2
10-Jan-23 Stage 6 10-Jan-24 Stage 2
11-Jan-23 Stage 6 11-Jan-24 Stage 2
12-Jan-23 Stage 6 12-Jan-24 Stage 3
13-Jan-23 Stage 6 13-Jan-24 Stage 3
14-Jan-23 Stage 5 14-Jan-24 Stage 3

Mantashe’s claim of stage 8 load-shedding

There has been widespread speculation that Eskom implemented stage 8 load-shedding without letting the public know.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland previously said Eskom hit stage 8 power cuts according to the official national code of practice for load shedding.

Yelland said many people, including his family in Craighall Park, are experiencing 12 hours of load-shedding daily.

“If you look at the NRS048-9 specifications, they are consistent with stage 8 load-shedding. It is not stage 6 load-shedding,” Yelland said.

Energy expert Adil Nchabeleng said Eskom has most likely decided not to inform the public when it exceeds stage 6 load-shedding.

“Eskom has made a decision to cap its announcements at stage 6 load-shedding, avoiding announcing stage 8 or higher load-shedding,” he said.

“They are giving us the impression that everything is oscillating around stage 6, which is a lie. It is beyond stage 6 when considering the frequency of power cuts.”

Monique le Roux from the University of Stellenbosch’s Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) concurs.

She previously said Eskom seems to have a drive to avoid as much as possible announcing stage 7 load-shedding.

Eskom regularly announced that it has implemented load-shedding of over 7,000 MW, which equates to stage 8.

However, until now, no minister or Eskom executive admitted that the country experienced stage 8 load-shedding in 2023.

What makes Mantashe’s claim curious is that Eskom only exceeded 7,000 MW in load-shedding in February 2023.

In the first two weeks of January 2023, the highest load-shedding announced by Eskom was 6,409 MW. This equates to stage 7 load-shedding.

The table below shows the load-shedding announced by Eskom at the start of 2023, which never exceeded stage 7 in real terms.

Date Load-shedding Stage announced Real stage
09-Jan-23 3,371 MW Stage 4 Stage 4
10-Jan-23 3,527 MW Stage 6 Stage 4
11-Jan-23 5,088 MW Stage 6 Stage 6
12-Jan-23 6,409 MW Stage 6 Stage 7
13-Jan-23 5,124 MW Stage 5 Stage 5

This article was first published by Daily Investor and was reproduced with permission.

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Mantashe says South Africa hit stage 8 load-shedding