Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has assured South Africans that the chance of loadshedding during the 21-day national lockdown is highly unlikely.
Mantashe said his department has made it a point to prioritise citizens during the lockdown – which is meant to stop the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus – and this will be possible because most businesses will not be fully operational.
“Our approach is focusing on people rather than business; it will be unlikely that we will be having load shedding. We require Eskom to supply electricity to the people,” Mantashe said.
He was among three other ministers – Public Service and Administration Minister Senzo Mchunu, Communications Minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams and Sports, Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa – who addressed the media on Wednesday afternoon about plans to maintain the operation of various sectors for the 21 days when South Africans were expected to stay at home.
Mantashe said the supply of fuel to the relevant critical and essential services, as well as the supply of coal to Eskom for electricity supply and liquid fuels production were critical during this period.
Imports for petroleum products will be scaled back for the duration of the lockdown as there will be excess during the lockdown period.
Essential services supporting the sector include security, infrastructure management, water pumping, refrigeration and ventilation.
Our approach is focusing on people rather than business.
In terms of the mining sector, Mantashe said operations would be scaled down especially when it came to deep level mining which was more labour-intensive.
“Production of gold, chrome manganese will be scaled down, while the processing of surface material in the PGM’s sector will continue with the production of, among others, medical products,” he said.
In addition, the minerals council has committed to avail its health infrastructure facilities and staff during the lockdown to support government efforts.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a 21-day lockdown earlier this week after the number of Covid-19 cases continued to rise.
South Africa only recorded its first case of the deadly virus approximately two weeks ago; however the number is now more than 700.
All South Africans will have to stay home from midnight on Thursday March 26 until midnight on Thursday April 16.
Nobody will be allowed to leave their homes except under strictly-controlled circumstances such as to seek medical care, buy food, medicine and other supplies or collect a social grant.
Health workers in the public and private sectors, emergency personnel, those in security services – such as the police, traffic officers, military medical personnel, soldiers – will be exempt from the lockdown.
Those involved in the production, distribution and supply of food and basic goods, essential banking services, the maintenance of power, water and telecommunications services, laboratory services, and the provision of medical and hygiene products, will also be exempt.
Businesses that can continue their operations remotely will be allowed to do so.
The South African National Defence Force will help the police to ensure that the lockdown measures are followed.
South African citizens and residents who arrive from high-risk countries will be placed under quarantine for 14 days.
Non-South Africans who arrive on flights from high-risk countries which were prohibited in Ramaphosa’s announcement last week will be turned back and international flights to Lanseria Airport are temporarily suspended.