DA clarifies its position on a ring-fenced State of Disaster on Eskom and the electricity sector

Issued by Ghaleb Cachalia MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises
15 Jul 2022 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

As the nation waits to hear the planned measures by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government to address the energy crisis, it is important that the DA corrects a growing but misleading narrative that the party is in support of a state of emergency declaration.

This is completely false and at odds with every piece of communication that we have issued on the electricity crisis. To be clear, the DA will be the first to reject any step taken by Ramaphosa to declare a state of emergency on the energy crisis.

A state of emergency exceeds the bounds of reasonableness and will be too extreme a step to take in response to a crisis that is largely concentrated on administrative red tape and stonewalling from Minister Gwede Mantashe.

On 12 May 2022, the DA held a press conference in which we called for a State of Disaster to be declared on Eskom and the electricity sector. We emphasized the fact that this declaration should be ring-fenced across the electricity value chain, from generation, distribution and transmission.

We understood that loadshedding had become a national crisis and that Eskom, regardless of any action it took, was never going to solve the crisis. In calling for a ring-fenced state of disaster, the DA is only motivated by removing impediments for the full participation of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and bringing new generation capacity online in the shortest time possible.

The ring-fenced state of disaster will focus, in the short-term, on helping South Africa secure the amount of power made available by Eskom’s fleet of power plants to meet the minimum demands by consumers, in addition to opening up – with speed – alternative sources of supply to meet the nation’s requirements.

In order to ensure accountability, the DA will propose the establishment of an ad-hoc parliamentary committee. Parliament should play a central role in enforcing accountability and sustained implementation of project deliverables.

The DA governed Western Cape is already operating in a disaster management frame when it comes to loadshedding. Minister Anton Bredell has publicly stated that the Western Cape Disaster Management Centre (PDMC) was activated, and all municipalities were asked to report on their backup systems. In addition, Minister Bredell wrote to Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, asking for a nationally coordinated disaster management response.

South Africa is in the middle of an economically damaging energy crisis. A ring-fenced state of disaster, that is fully accountable to Parliament, can be an effective tool to remove red tape and unlock investment in new generation capacity. A state of emergency is not the appropriate action to take in response to the crisis and the DA will reject it outright should such a step be taken.