Press release: SBI calls on government to stop Eskom’s slaughter of small businesses


March 24 2019
Embargo: none

The Small Business Institute calls on government to redouble efforts to resolve the rolling power blackouts which are having a crippling effect on the small business segment in SA.

At the same time, the SBI is calling on Eskom and Thaba Chweu local municipality to abide by the decision of the North Gauteng High Court to stop disrupting electricity supply in the eMalahleni area arising from avoidable disputes between two organs of state: Eskom and the municipality. The court ruled in the favour of an application brought by Sabie, Lydenburg and Graskop Chambers of Commerce and Tourism.

“Our members have been sharing painful stories of the effects of load shedding on their businesses, customers and employees” (One of the guys I re-tweeted owns a shisanyama and lost 25kg / R8000 worth of meat to loadshedding!)”.  Worse, we are concerned that there seems to be no clarity on when we will see the end of load shedding. Some energy experts are predicting this situation will persist for the next five years,” says Bernard Swanepoel, SBI’s executive director.

Smaller firms, which are expected to create 90% of SA’s jobs in 2030, are more vulnerable than big business peers as they are not in a position of spending on alternative sources of energy during periods of load shedding.

“If the situation is not resolved urgently, we are headed for a devastating winter. And our economy, which has yet to recover from years of policy instability, will be dealt another blow,” says Swanepoel.

As a member of Business Unity SA, the SBI also supports BUSA’s intervention to reach out to the government with the view to finding short to medium-term solutions to the energy crisis.

Whilst waiting for feedback promised by public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan, “we urge everyone, including big business, to think creatively about alleviating the impact on small business. Short-term solutions could include sharing off-grid power with smaller firms in the same area,” according to Swanepoel.

He says: “We hope Eskom and the Thaba Chweu municipality will do the right thing and not appeal the high court’s judgment.”

Notes for editors:
–    Judgment in the case being referred to above is available on our website or on request
–    The case was brought by three of SBI’s members, namely:
•    Sabie Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
•    Lydenburg Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
•    Graskop Chamber of Commerce and Tourism
–    For more information and press interviews, please call John Dludlu on 083 676 1881