7 March 2008 – South Africa’s president, Thabo Mbeki, said this week that efforts to overcome the current power crisis in the country, must not endanger jobs or economic growth. Earlier this week, Eskom announced that big building projects may have to wait by as much as six months for electricity licences, in an attempt by the utility to limit growing demand.
The South African construction industry has warned of large scale job losses as a result of this plan.
"We would want to insist that we must do everything possible to ensure (the power emergency) does not impact negatively on economic growth, that it does not impact negatively on job losses and that indeed Eskom must handle this matter in a way that addresses those challenges," the president told parliament.
The power crisis has affected every aspect of South African life – and government has, as a result, lowered its growth forecast to four percent.
"Government takes collective responsibility for the electricity emergency."
"This means that the attempt to attribute this national emergency to particular ministers is misdirected," the president said, responding to calls to sack ministers for not responding to warnings about an impending crisis as early as 1998.