South Africa

State of disaster declared in South Africa

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs, has declared a national state of disaster.

Zuma explained that the state of disaster was needed to prevent the possible progression to a total blackout.

She added that she also considered the possibility of augmenting existing measures already undertaken by the organs of state to deal with electricity supply constraints.

She said this action was needed considering the magnitude, severity, and progression of the severe electricity supply constraint.

The substantial impact caused by the severe electricity supply constraint further encouraged her to declare a national state of disaster.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the energy crisis in the country has done untold damage and is an existential threat to businesses and the economy.

Through declaring the crisis, he said that the coordination of addressing the crisis could be focused on a single point.

Plans for a national state of disaster have been criticised over the past week since Ramaphosa first expressed the governing ANC’s intent to declare one.

The main criticism against the declaration is that it would open the floodgates for looting and corruption, as was seen in the past.

Ramaphosa said that the Auditor General would be brought in to track spending and funding involved with the crisis to ensure that money is handled appropriately and so that the same looting that took place during the Covid crisis is not repeated.

Adding to the oversight of the energy crisis, the president said that he would also be establishing a new minister within the presidency to focus exclusively on the crisis.

“Our most immediate task is to reduce the severity of load shedding in the coming months and ultimately eliminate load shedding altogether,” the president said.

He acknowledged that South Africans want action and solutions to the crisis and “want the government to work for them”.

While the president said he didn’t have a new long-term plan to resolve the crisis, he said the government was doubling down on the energy plan announced in 2022.

“We are focused on those actions that will make a meaningful difference now and enable real progress in the next year. We are not presenting a new plan, we are concentrating on those issues that concern South Africans the most,” he said.

“The state of disaster will enable us to provide practical measures that we need to take to support businesses in the food production, storage and retail supply chain,” he said.

He added that it includes the roll-out of generators, solar panels, and uninterrupted power supplies.

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana will announce details of the tax breaks in his budget speech on 22 February.

The Public Enterprises minister will remain in charge of Eskom and will continue to oversee its operations.


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