Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, will not attend the UN General Assembly this week. Instead, he will return home from Britain to address a power issue there, his spokesman informed local media, including the television network eNCA.
For the first time ever, the state-owned power company Eskom went to “Stage 6” electrical outages on Sunday, meaning the majority of South Africans are without power for at least six hours every day.
Eskom has implemented outages for over a decade that have choked economic growth in Africa’s most industrialised nation. Amid growing public anger, Ramaphosa pledged new steps to address the crisis in July, but power cuts have persisted.
This is not the first time he has cut short a foreign trip over the power crisis. In 2019, Ramaphosa ended a visit to Egypt early so he could return home to deal with the same issue.
Ramaphosa’s spokesman Vincent Magwenya told privately-owned television channel eNCA that the president, currently in Britain for the funeral of Queen Elizabeth II, was scheduled to travel to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly.
“He has decided to cancel that,” Magwenya said.
He will instead travel back to South Africa immediately after Monday’s funeral.
Ramaphosa wants to better understand what led to a large number of recent breakdowns at Eskom’s generation fleet and what progress has been made on the interventions he announced in July, Magwenya added.
He said South Africa’s statement at the UN General Assembly will instead be delivered by International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor.