Solidarity warned that the government’s national state of disaster over the ongoing power crisis would once again open the door to large-scale corruption and fraud.
On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said there is broad agreement in the ruling party to declare a state of disaster over the country’s energy crisis.
He said the state of disaster would be similar to what the government did when the country faced the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa said work is already underway within the government to establish whether the legal requirements for the declaration of a state of disaster are met.
They are also investigating what specific action they will be empowered to undertake to urgently resolve load-shedding under a state of disaster.
Not everyone shares Ramaphosa’s views. Solidarity expressed fierce criticism against the idea of declaring a state of disaster due to problems at Eskom.
The trade union said the government’s inability to use their current power led to the crisis and a state of disaster would open the door to large-scale corruption and fraud.
Solidarity argues that it is insane to trust the government with the powers of a state of disaster when their mismanagement is the cause of the disaster.
“The ANC government declaring a state of disaster to deal with load-shedding is like trying to put out a fire with petrol,” said Connie Mulder, head of the Solidarity research institute.
Although there are benefits linked to the declaration of a state of disaster, the chances that such benefits will materialise are extremely small. However, the risks can be destructive.
“Although it seems tempting to be able to apply faster decision-making, the reality is that emergency procurement of energy will take time,” he said.
“A state of disaster is not going to significantly accelerate this process. It will simply relax the overview thereof.”
“This creates the nasty possibility of a corruption crossover between Medupi, Kusile, and Covid purchase fraud.”
According to Solidarity, the answer lies in less government power and more private sector freedom. The state already has enough tools in their hands to solve the crisis.
Solidarity further argues that declaring a state of disaster appears to be an abuse and misapplication of the law for the current crisis. Such a decision would probably not stand in court.
Solidarity’s legal team is investigating the matter further.