Electricity Crisis: South Africa declares ‘State of Disaster

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‘South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa has announced a “State of Disaster” due to the country’s electricity crisis during his annual State of the Nation address in Cape Town.

This follows just 10 months after the Covid-induced ‘State of Disaster’ was lifted.

Ramaphosa also announced that an electricity minister would be appointed to deal with the matter more effectively and urgently.

The new minister would assume full responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the electricity crisis response, including the work of the National Energy Crisis Committee, he said.

“The energy crisis is an existential threat to our economy and social fabric. We must spare no effort and we must allow no delay in implementing these measures.

“Our country has, for many months, endured a debilitating electricity shortage that has caused immense damage to our economy. Now, persistent load shedding is impeding our recovery from the effects of these events,” Ramaphosa said.

The crisis left the state-owned Eskom, the sole electricity supplier, financially crippled amid rampant looting and corruption for over a decade now.

The regular massive breakdowns at power stations have led to unprecedented load shedding, with households and business facing scheduled blackout sessions for up to 12 hours a day at times.

“We know that without a reliable supply of electricity our efforts towards an inclusive economy that creates jobs and reduces poverty will not succeed,” Ramaphosa conceded amid growing nationwide protests over the crisis.

“Under these conditions, we cannot proceed as we usually would. Our most immediate priority is to restore energy security,” the President said as he gave details of the “State of Disaster” that went into effect immediately.

To fully implement the plan, he stressed the need for strong central coordination and decisive action. “In a time of crisis, we need a single point of command and a single line of march.” Ramaphosa said the imposition of the “State of Disaster” will enable the government to exempt critical infrastructure such as hospitals and water treatment plants from load shedding.

“The South African Police Service has established a dedicated team with senior leadership to deal with the pervasive corruption and theft at several power stations that have contributed to the poor performance of these stations.

“Intelligence-driven operations at Eskom-related sites have so far resulted in 43 arrests,” Ramaphosa said.

He added that later this year, the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill will be tabled to transform the energy sector and establish a competitive electricity market.