Opposition parties have criticised President Cyril Ramaphosa for his international trip to the UK and Northern Ireland as the country faces an energy crisis.
They say that despite the fact that there were ministers responsible for Eskom's oversight such as Energy’s Gwede Mantashe and Public Enterprises’ Pravin Gordhan, it was Ramaphosa who had to steady the ship.
Ramaphosa is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and will be hosted by King Charles III over the two-day visit.
The visit takes place in the midst of uncertainty over energy security and increasing stages of load shedding as power utility Eskom needs money to buy diesel.
In addition public service workers are expected to embark on strike action today and the Monetary Policy Committee is expected to increase interest rates on Thursday amid a cost of living crisis faced by millions of people.
John Steenhuisen, DA leader took to social media yesterday and said while Ramaphosa had travelled overseas to meet with British royals, he had left “a right royal mess behind here”.
“Leadership begins here at home – you fix your own problems and protect your own people as your number one priority. I’m sure that seeing our president in a fancy carriage at a fancy castle and at fancy dinners will be of little comfort to those of our citizens who struggle to feed their family tonight while they sit in the dark praying for a job. Enjoy the pomp and ceremony!” Steenhuisen said.
EFF spokesperson Sinawo Thambo said it was typical of Ramaphosa to leave the country in a time of crisis.
“He only cuts the trip short when he realises how embarrassing it is to abandon the country to gallivant around the world.
“It however makes no difference whether Ramaphosa is here or not, load shedding continues while he is here, unemployment continues to rocket while he is here, crime levels increase while he is here. His presence or absence is of no consequence.”
Bantu Holomisa, UDM leader, said the country had 75 cabinet ministers and he questioned what they were doing during this time of crisis.
“Ministers involved in energy and the Eskom board and CEO presented a plan to the president who then said that Eskom is on track. The people who have to do the work are not doing it. We have to ask what they are doing,” questioned Holomisa.
IFP national spokesperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa said whether Ramaphosa was in the country or overseas made no difference as there was no material change to the country’s circumstances.
“Load shedding is a daily lived reality and Eskom and government have completely failed in providing solutions.”
Meanwhile, British newspaper “The Times” yesterday reported that Ramaphosa was making a historic trip to London “and a break from the relentless power cuts that have come to epitomise his leadership’s shortcomings”.
“Harder to escape though is the whiff of a gathering sleaze scandal that will trail his carriage procession down The Mall for the first state visit hosted by the King.
“The milestone visit, which includes Ramaphosa’s speeches to parliament and a white-tie banquet at Buckingham Palace, will stand in stark contrast to scenes back home, where unemployment has soared to 35 per cent, electricity is off for most of the day and corruption allegations threaten to trigger his prosecution,” the paper reported.
On Sunday, a statement from the Department of Public Enterprises said Gordhan had an urgent meeting with Eskom board members and the department is urgently working with National Treasury and Eskom for it to find the money to buy supplies of diesel.
“All possible efforts are being made to ensure that all of the measures in the national electricity plan are implemented,” the statement read.