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Mass powercuts in South Africa, sabotage denied

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Mass powercuts in South Africa, sabotage denied

Mass powercuts in South Africa, sabotage denied

South Africa has suffered a third day of powercuts caused by major problems at the main energy supplier Eskom.

The government has only recently announced plans to split the company up.

Sam Holder reports.


Mass powercuts in South Africa, sabotage denied

In Johannesburg on Tuesday - cars had to make do without traffic lights.

And engineers had to work using their mobile phones to see.

For the third day in a row, South Africa has been hit by major power cuts - as arguments about the future of the country's main supplier continue.

It's meant shops have been forced to close.

And those that stayed open have faced their own issues.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) TEXTILE SHOP MANAGER, EUNICE MASHABA, SAYING: "Most of my customers don't use cash, they don't carry cash, they have to swipe - machines can't work without electricity." These businesses shouldn't need to use diesel generators.

But the company responsible for keeping the lights on is in big trouble.

State-owned monolith Eskom provides 90 percent of South Africa's power.

But it's drowning in $30 billion dollars of debt.

A third of its capacity on Tuesday was offline - due to technical problems and planned maintenance.

And the power cuts come less than a week after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced controversial plans to reform the giant.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) PRESIDENT CYRIL RAMAPHOSA SAYING: "We've got to address this because Eskom is a risk.

We've got all our energy eggs in one basket ... and it should not be like that.

And that is why we are saying, we now need to have a new business model for Eskom where we're able to minimize the risk." Eskom is due to be split into three separate companies.

But potential job cuts has made that unpopular with unions.

This week's power cuts are the worst South Africans have faced in several years.

Despite speculation from analysts - and suspicious timing - Eskom officials say there is no evidence of sabotage at its affected units.

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