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Legal framework required: ANC backs national state of disaster to end load shedding


President Cyril Ramaphosa says ANC leaders supported the idea of a national state of disaster to end load shedding.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says ANC leaders supported the idea of a national state of disaster to end load shedding.

PHOTO: Alfonso Nqunjana/News24

  • President Cyril Ramaphosa and his fellow ANC members believe the declaration of a national state of disaster may be the best option for the country to resolve the load shedding crisis. 
  • The ANC held a two-day lekgotla in Kempton Park in Johannesburg over the weekend, brainstorming ideas about socio-economic issues plaguing the country. 
  • The biggest development at the meeting was leaders’ support for a national state of disaster to resolve load shedding.

With much support from ANC leaders, the government plans to mull over a legal framework that could allow it to implement a national state of disaster to resolve ongoing load shedding. 

The ANC’s national executive committee (NEC) lekgotla overwhelmingly supported the declaration of a national disaster.

In closing remarks at the NEC lekgotla in Johannesburg on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said ANC leaders at the meeting supported the idea.

The last time the government implemented a national state of disaster was during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

A state of disaster allows the government to access more comprehensive financial resources in a short timeframe to help cushion a national emergency. The president did not divulge much about what a national disaster for energy would entail. 

He said the government would look at the legal frameworks on how a national state of disaster could be implemented to help solve the load shedding crisis.

Ramaphosa said:

Work is already under way within government to establish whether the legal requirements for the declaration of a national state of disaster are met and what specific actions we would be empowered to undertake to urgently resolve load shedding within the framework of a national state of disaster.

“This matter will receive attention, including at the Cabinet lekgotla, and must be resolved without delay,” Ramaphosa added. 

The president said the NEC lekgotla agreed that efforts to resolve load shedding had to be fast-tracked sooner than the two-year timeframe previously communicated by Eskom.

READ | We’re aiming to lower load shedding by year’s end, Ramaphosa tells ANC leaders at lekgotla

The party aims for 2024, a crucial year when, according to ANC and election modellers’ predictions, the party could face its most challenging national and provincial election. 

Ramaphosa said the government would discuss the idea and the legal parameters at the Cabinet lekgotla this Wednesday. 

The country has been grappling with rolling blackouts for months as Eskom power stations were either decommissioned for maintenance, or suffered regular breakdowns. 

The president said the “energy crisis had to be resolved because it affected every aspect of essential service delivery, from health and food security, to water provision and security”. 

Although he did not provide much detail on the solutions discussed at the lekgotla, he said the two-day meeting provided a “foundation” and “clear” direction for a resolution to the problem. 

ANC leaders want senior government officials and Ramaphosa to take the lead in the country’s energy response, similar to how he chaired the National Coronavirus Command Council to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

READ | Caution about Eskom’s ‘new’ plan – but private power may come to the rescue

“This lekgotla has agreed that the coordination of our response also needs to be escalated to the most senior levels of government and that we need to communicate more clearly, and the message should be singular so that there is no confusion among our people. The lekgotla said the president must coordinate all these processes to ensure the electricity crisis is addressed as we did with Covid-19,” Ramaphosa said. 

The DA had been most outspoken about the need for the government to declare a national state of disaster to deal with load shedding. 

The party recently protested at ANC headquarters at Luthuli House in Johannesburg, saying that the ANC had failed to deal with the situation.

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