Solidarity has warned President Cyril Ramaphosa that it would litigate if he institutes a state of disaster due to the ongoing energy crisis.
The warning comes ahead of the president’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) tonight, with many people expecting an announcement regarding Eskom’s problems.
According to Solidarity, there is not a single element of the energy crisis that has its origins in the limitation of state powers.
“It is precisely the government’s jealous clinging to its monopoly in this sector that is the root cause of the crisis,” the organisation said.
Connie Mulder, the head of the Solidarity Research Institute, said existing legislation already provides for the emergency procurement of electricity.
“Minister Mantashe already used the existing legislation in July 2020 to announce an emergency power procurement programme for emergency purchases,” he said.
Using a simple regulation, the minister can stipulate how much power can be procured over which period.
“If the president is unhappy with the implementation of these instruments, then the appropriate route would be a letter of resignation from Minister Mantashe.”
Solidarity said a state of disaster would once again expose South African citizens to the abuse of power by a minister or a command council.
“Those parties will not be held accountable for the implementation of the regulations and restrictions they impose on people.”
Mulder highlighted that a state of disaster grants abnormal powers for abnormal circumstances to the government.
Solidarity furthermore contends that the country’s democratic and legal system would suffer harm if the government successfully implemented a state of disaster.
“A state of disaster is meant for a disaster, not for poor governance. Disaster legislation can accomplish much, but it cannot regulate getting rid of incompetence,” he said.
“Those who caused this disaster cannot now acquire all powers to solve it. The answer lies in less power for the government and more freedom for the private sector.”