Government withdraws State of Disaster on electricity

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Government announced on Wednesday that it has terminated, with immediate effect, the National State of Disaster declared by the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) on 9 February 2023.

This comes after a legal challenge to stop the State of Disaster by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), which questioned its rationality.

However, according to CoGTA, the State of Disaster was a necessary response to the impact of critical levels of load shedding on the economy and vulnerable sectors such as health and small businesses.

Following the declaration of the State of Disaster in February, government said it adopted wide-ranging regulations.

These regulations, according to the department, set out the responsibilities of the different organs of the State to mitigate the impact of severe load shedding, prevent the escalation of electricity supply constraints, and avert a national emergency.

“These regulations and the underlying actions were put in place in support of the Energy Action Plan (EAP). This was to support an effective and integrated response across all spheres of government,” CoGTA explained.

The department believes that the State of Disaster enabled the State to enhance interventions by the National Energy Crisis Committee (NECC) in terms of the EAP.

The interventions in the EAP aim to fix Eskom and improve the availability of existing supply, enable and accelerate private investment in generation capacity and speed up procurement of new capacity from renewables, gas and battery storage.

The goal is also to unleash businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar and fundamentally transform the electricity sector to achieve long-term energy security.

The newly appointed Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa, recently undertook oversight visits to power stations and consultations within government, including with Eskom, to identify and resolve electricity supply constraints.

“As a structure that integrates areas of responsibility and resources within government, the NECC provides support to the Minister in the identification and resolution of bottlenecks,” the department said.

Given these developments, the CoGTA Minister Thembisile Nkadimeng has decided to terminate the State of Disaster.

“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.”

Government, through the NECC, has since committed to continuing to engage, cooperate and coordinate its actions to reduce and eradicate load shedding using existing legislation and contingency arrangements.

These include measures already taken to protect critical infrastructure, facilitate emergency energy generation and protect consumers in terms of relevant competition law.

“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.”

Nkadimeng has since expressed her sincere appreciation for the constructive and collaborative way in which stakeholders in civil society have worked with government in a short time to achieve progress in keeping the lights on and enabling the economy and public services to function more productively.

The department said a relevant Gazette would be issued soon. –