This morning, minister for public enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, and Eskom chairperson, Jabu Mabuza, held a briefing in which the current situation at Eskom was addressed.

The crux of the briefing is that Eskom is in dire straits.

The trouble is that not even Eskom appears to know just how dire the situation is. This morning Gordhan said that an investigation into the crisis at Eskom is underway and we’ll have a clearer picture of how long power cuts will carry on for in 10 days.

“This is not about us pointing fingers at anybody. Today, we’re confronted, as many times in South Africa we have, with a crisis. We’ve had load shedding before and I can give you the guarantee that we’ll communicate better because we’ve not communicated adequately,” Gordhan said.

That having been said, South Africans might be facing even fewer hours with the lights on.

A report from Fin24 citing “officials” reveals that Eskom and government are preparing for loadshedding Stages 5 and 6.

These are not new stages so much as they have simply never been necessary. Eskom has published loadshedding schedules for Stage 1 – 8 for some time now.

Stage 5 and 6 loadshedding would mean that South Africans face more frequent power cuts. We’d argue that Stage 4 is already frequent but then, we’re not in charge of Eskom.

From what we can see from the schedules on Eskom’s website is that Stage 5 will see two loadshedding sessions of four hours a piece everyday while Stage 6 ramps that up to three four-hour sessions a day.

While the cut-off from Cahorra Bassa in Mozambique sent South Africa into Stage 4 loadshedding at the weekend it’s clear that there is a far greater problem.

South Africa reportedly has a 48 000MW of energy but only 28 000MW are available daily. Add to that the fact that Mabuza says it takes too long for Eskom to order replacement parts and various failures at power stations and you have a recipe for an unstable power system.

A shipment of diesel is expected to land in South Africa on Thursday at which time it is expected there will be slight relief but don’t expect loadshedding to exit the public discourse anytime soon.

Stage 4 loadshedding is currently in effect and is expected to last until 23:00 this evening.