Eskom and government keeping SA in the dark on Operation Breaking Dawn

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Eskom need to take the nation into their confidence and be frank about the possibility of a national blackout.

Majuba Power Station. Photo Eskom
Majuba Power Station. Photo Eskom

Documents show that Eskom is running simulation exercises in preparation for a national blackout.

These simulation exercises are being run under the codename Breaking Dawn.

On 18 March 2015, the leader of the DA Mmusi Maimane asked Deputy President Ramaphosa if he was aware of any drills being run in preparation for a national blackout. The Deputy President replied, stating that:

“I am not aware of any provincial war rooms that are conducting drills in case of system failure and I guess that if that was happening I am sure that the national war room would have been aware of such activities, answered Ramaphosa.

This is in stark contrast to an Eskom briefing document, dated 17 March 2015, on operation Breaking Dawn, which stated that these simulation exercises were being conducted. The briefing document reads:

“Eskom annually undertakes a national exercise to prepare the organization for responding to extreme events. In the past these exercises have addressed issues such as emergency demand reduction. This year’s exercise will address a national blackout scenario.”

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Given the Deputy President’s position in government and the War Room falling within his purview, it seems highly unlikely that he would not be aware of Breaking Dawn. Did Deputy President Ramaphosa intentionally mislead the nation?

Maimane has requested the following be presented to Parliament:

  • An accurate, comprehensive report on the maintenance needs of power stations;
  • The likelihood of a national blackout; and
  • A fortnightly briefing by the Deputy President to the National Assembly on the state of Eskom

The crisis at Eskom has a severe impact on the country’s already weak economy, and in many instances the livelihood of our people.

It is therefore vital that Government and Eskom are transparent and open about the problems facing Eskom.