South Africa’s least-favourite state-owned business (in a crowded field) has been on the ropes for most of December. Daily warnings about load shedding eventually gave way to rolling blackouts and the Stage 6 nightmare. However, Eskom have been blighted by what they label “fake news” – for the second time this week.
Load shedding: A battle of disinformation
On Tuesday, the firm issued a notice “to correct fictitious and misleading information”, and explained that load shedding is “a controlled and responsible act implemented to prevent a national blackout.” False information suggesting that the country would go “days” without any electricity were dismissed outright.
Furthermore, Eskom urged customers to stay up to date with load shedding schedules by only following the utility’s official accounts – there are several parody pages in their name, which continue to spread incorrect claims. It’s strange really, because we’ve always had Eskom down as being “beyond parody”.
But Thursday marked another clash between Eskom and the peddlers of fake news. The group have issued a statement to tackle a viral voice-note doing the rounds on social media. A recording in Afrikaans levels a number of allegations against the electricity giants, purporting that Eskom owe R500 million to oil suppliers as their coal isn’t “good enough” to keep the fires burning, and they need something to ‘spike’ production.
Eskom hit-out at fake news peddlers… again
However, this accusation isn’t accurate, Eskom say. Their statement debunks the claims made in the clip:
“During stable boiler operations, no fuel oil is required. All of Eskom’s coal suppliers are contracted to supply the quality requirements of each power station. However, where fuel oil is needed, it is being delivered to some coal-fired power stations. We are up to date with all our payments. Factors which have caused load shedding are not linked to oil supply”
Eskom statement tackling alleged “fake news”
It’s likely that, whoever is behind these claims, they’ve taken advantage of the ‘wet coal’ situation. Eskom faced ridicule for explaining that the recent rains had dampened their coal reserves, leading to a lack of generational power. When coal gets wet, it sticks to the conveyer belt, and it is little use in a furnace. However, officials deny that this situation has led to any type of oil crisis.
- You can read the full Eskom statement here:
Date: 12 December 2019
— Eskom Hld SOC Ltd (@Eskom_SA) December 12, 2019