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National state of disaster: How the ANC plans to end load shedding by year’s end


ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula.

ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula.

  • The ANC believes it is possible to end load shedding by the end of the year. 
  • ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said on Tuesday the party saw the declaration of a national state of disaster as a critical avenue in helping accelerate its possible end. 
  • A declaration could help speed up procurement and funding needed to support Eskom’s energy crisis, Mbalula added. 

The ANC says it wants to end load shedding by the end of the year by reprioritising the national budget and declaring a national state of disaster. 

On Tuesday, its secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula, expanded on the party’s actions to end load shedding following a two-day lekgotla by ANC leaders in Johannesburg at the weekend. 

On Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the ANC would explore the legal frameworks of what a national state of disaster would entail. 

Mbalula said the party was concerned about where the funding to support a national disaster declaration would be sourced.

However, he added the ANC had already considered existing budget allocations. 

While the lekgotla noted the budget was under pressure, it also resolved the work of the National Energy Crisis Committee be accelerated to end load shedding by December. 

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“In meeting this objective, the NEC [national executive committee] agreed that all measures should be taken to protect, rebuild and save Eskom.

“The NEC lekgotla, in line with the presentation of Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, noted that this would require a reprioritisation of the already pressured national budget,” the ANC said in a statement. 

In particular, it added it hoped to reprioritise unspent budgets “as there are billions which are projected to be overspent”. 

National Treasury generally reallocates unspent funds in any event. 

Mbalula said the ANC believed a declaration of a state of disaster would also help end load shedding sooner. 

This would enable the government to speed up procurement and the reallocation of resources. 

He said:

A state of disaster will help us to move with speed. The target of getting this done this year can then be met. Procurement will be faster and resources for interventions, particularly for maintenance, [made available].

Mbalula added the command centre established under the disaster would draw on people with the capacity to advise it. 

“For a long time, we have been told something that is elusive. The reports have been contradictory. Our response to Covid was scientifically driven. Our response to load shedding must be scientifically driven,” he said. 

The government declared a national disaster to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020. 

A Cabinet lekgotla would be held on Thursday, and the ANC lekgotla recommendations would be discussed at the gathering, Mbalula added. 

He said load shedding could be eased or ended by the end of the year if a guideline was followed. 

Some of the recommendations discussed and presented at the lekgotla include:

1. Prioritisation of maintenance, management, and security of Eskom power plants. 

2. Management of load shedding such that it minimises the impact on the economy and the provision of basic services, including water. 

3. Mitigation of the decision by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa regarding Eskom tariffs on people and the economy. 

4. Implement measures to manage electricity demand, including installing solar heaters and panels and other energy-efficient systems, which should be incentivised. 

5. Expediting of the procurement of emergency power. 

6. Relief and support to poor households, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises. 

7. Curb the outward migration of technical and management skills and capabilities at Eskom while mobilising additional skills in areas such as engineering.

8. Support of the just energy transition as a long-term programme.

The country has been dealing with unending days of load shedding for several months. 

On Tuesday, Eskom announced it would move to Stage 5 and that Stage 6 would be implemented from Wednesday. 

The power utility had indicated the country would experience stages 2 and 3 load shedding for the next two years.

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