Why government is ending the National State of Disaster

  • In a surprise decision, the South African government has ended its National State of Disaster over the ongoing loadshedding crisis with immediate effect.
  • Declared officially by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address on 9th February, now all regulations implemented as part of it will be repealed.
  • The termination comes after the State of Disaster was legally challenged by Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA).

The South African government has decided to end its National State of Disaster called on the ongoing electricity crisis after just over one month.

According to SA Government News, the National State of Disaster has been terminated “with immediate effect” after it was challenged in the courts by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA). The legality of the State of Disaster was also challenged by civil action group Solidarity.

EWN reports the State Attorney had informed OUTA’s lawyers today that the government was withdrawing the National State of Disaster on electricity, and it would be paying OUTA’s court costs.

“The national state of disaster, has been overturned by government and I guess it starts to ask questions as to why is government making these decisions without really applying their mind to the long-term consequences and the backlash that they are going to be receiving on a number of these matters,” said OUTA CEO, Wayne Duvenage.

It was the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) that declared the National State of Disaster on 9th February, with President Cyril Ramaphosa informing the public of the declaration during his State of the Nation Address.

During the address, Ramaphosa explained that government would be using the State of Disaster to more actively tackle issues relating to the seemingly endless loadshedding crippling South Africa’s economy.

“[The loadshedding crisis] has progressively evolved to affect every part of society. We must act to lessen the impact of the crisis on farmers, on small businesses, on our water infrastructure, on our transport network and a number of other areas and facilities that affect our people’s lives,” highlighted the president during the address.

Following this decleration, government says it adopted a series of wide-ranging regulations to support the Energy Action Plan (EAP).

Now, “Following the termination of the State of Disaster, all regulations and directions made in terms of Section 27(2) of the Act, under the declaration of the National State of Disaster to deal with the impact of the severe electricity supply constraint, are repealed with immediate effect,” explained CoGTA.

According to the gazette in which the regulations were published, the government sought to address four key objectives as part of the State of Disaster. Namely to:

  • Minimise the impact of loadshedding on livelihoods, the economy, policing functions, national security, security services, education services, water services, food security, communications and municipal services;
  • Reduce and manage the impact of loadshedding on service delivery to support lifesaving and specified critical infrastructure;
  • Enable the connection of new generation supply, and;
  • Improve Eskom’s plant performance.

During the length of the State of Disaster, Eskom was also granted permission by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment to bypass a key anti-pollution process at its Kusile power station.

This would see Kusile turn off its flue-gas desulphurisation unit, increasing its energy production but increasing the number of harmful toxins in the emissions from Kusile’s six generating units.

Another measure introduced was the launch of the Resource Mobilisation Fund (RMF) by the Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. This fund sought to “provide resources and expertise to enable government to effectively implement the Energy Action Plan.”

With the Minister Ramokgopa set to make a statement to the media on Wednesday at 14:00, we will await further word from the government on what exactly the termination of the State of Disaster means for Eskom, loadshedding and regulations the government has been working on for the last month.

This as CoGTA says “A range of interventions and support measures introduced by departments, as an accelerated response at the time the State of Disaster was declared, will be sustained in terms of existing legislation.”

[Image – CC BY-ND 2.0 GovermentZA on Flickr]


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