DA’s SoD proposal was never intended to give the ANC government carte blanche

Issued by Ghaleb Cachalia MP – DA Shadow Minister for Public Enterprises
31 Jan 2023 in News

Please find attached a soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

The recommendation from the ANC, Cosatu and SACP that a national state of disaster be declared over Eskom comes about six months after President Ramaphosa rejected the idea in favour of the so-called energy action plan. He is on record as saying “We do not need a state [of]…. national disaster to implement common sense regulations that should help in resolving our energy crisis”.

The key feature of the president’s current turnabout is “to ensure that sufficient financial resources are allocated to end load-shedding.” It is for this reason that Parliament needs to fulfil the function of watchdog to ensure this does not become yet another opportunity for Covid-like misappropriations by key ANC ministers and officials.

The DA’s repeated request that a ring-fenced State of Disaster on Eskom be declared was to ensure  disaster relief funding be sourced from other departments and government resources, and reprioritized to keep the open-cycle turbines running in the immediate term.

Moreover, such a declaration would allow government to bypass its own self-imposed obstacles, bottlenecks and cost inflations in the form of unworkable labour legislation, localisation requirements, cadre deployment and preferential procurement. The DA was clear that the national focus should be on finding short term solutions to stabilize supply while expanding energy market participation by Independent Power Producers.

It is crucial that the envisaged State of Disaster is ring-fenced around Eskom and that it is overseen by an independent panel of suitably qualified experts to ensure probity and transparency.

Should this putative move by government be implemented it is of utmost importance that the president and his implementing minister, Gordhan, be placed on terms: mess this one up and you will have driven the final nail into South Africa’s economy and the lives and livelihoods of millions of citizens.

This initiative – first tabled by the DA – will be under our intense scrutiny, particularly as it will enable disaster relief funding to address immediate actions while fully costed measures to augment generation are presented and actioned without let or hindrance and that maintenance and repairs are carried out with urgency and transparency.

Make no mistake, this is not carte blanche for a 20 year opaque contract with Karpowerships and it is imperative that every cent spent is accounted for and its impact measured.