Those who oppose the proposed plans to declare a state of disaster in order to help combat crippling blackouts argue that the measure will undermine spending controls and is not a solution to the country’s energy crisis.
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On Tuesday, the African National Congress called for state-of-disaster laws to be applied to put an end to the outages by the end of the year.
More information may be released following a cabinet meeting on Thursday or when President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers his state-of-the-nation address on 9 February.
According to News24, Hilton Trollip, an energy research consultant and fellow at the University of Cape Town, warned that declaring a state of disaster would bring “huge risks” and that the government would need to justify why existing laws were inadequate.
“Existing legislation and institutions, if used in good faith, provide all that is necessary to get over loadshedding as fast as reasonably possible,” said Trollip.
Eskom has long asked for truncating procurement rules to hasten the delivery of the spare parts needed to repair its plants, though it is unclear what government actions would be taken in response to such a declaration.
If legal barriers are removed, Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has suggested securing electricity from floating gas-fired plants.
Bids by Turkey’s Karpowership to supply South Africa have moved slowly due to legal issues and environmental difficulties, according to News24.
The Congress of South African Trade Unions, the largest labour organisation in the country and a member of the nation’s ruling alliance, has endorsed the ANC’s plans.
In a statement, the organisation claimed that declaring a state of disaster communicates to society that the government is treating this crisis with the urgency it requires and that it will focus all of its attention and resources on stabilising and rebuilding the grid and giving the government and Eskom the necessary resources.