| 23 May 2024, Thursday |

South Africa’s ANC wants to use disaster rules to ease power crisis

According to a top party official on Tuesday, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) intends to use disaster management laws that was implemented in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to help put a stop to severe power outages.

Following a record number of days with power disruptions in 2017, struggling state utility Eskom has instituted power cuts every day this year. Power outages will reach their peak level ever on Tuesday.

“Our response to COVID was scientifically driven. Our response to dealing with load-shedding must be scientifically driven,” ANC Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula told reporters, using a term for power cuts.

“The ANC … must declare a ‘state of disaster’ so that government can do extraordinary interventions beyond the regulatory environment… to pull together as we have done during COVID and the 2010 (Soccer) World Cup.”

Mbalula, after meetings of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC), said that party leaders also wanted an energy crisis committee advising President Cyril Ramaphosa to speed up its work to ensure there were no power cuts by the end of the year.

Ramaphosa cancelled a planned appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos this month and is expected to unveil new measures to boost power supply at a state of the nation address on Feb. 9.

The power cuts by Eskom have significantly constrained economic growth in Africa’s most industrialised nation, prompting the central bank last week to slash its growth forecasts for this year and next.

Separately, the ANC executive encouraged the government to advocate for the removal of Morocco as a member of the African Union (AU) and for expansion of the BRICS grouping, where South Africa is a member alongside Brazil, Russia, India and China.

“The NEC acknowledged the increasing significance that BRICS partnership is playing in the global political economy and… agreed that BRICS must be expanded… to enhance its role as a counter-hegemonic bloc,” Mbalula said.

The Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, which South Africa and other countries recognize as an independent country but which Morocco has annexed, is a disputed territory that South Africa has frequently criticized Morocco over.

33 years after Morocco quit a forerunner to the AU over the matter, South Africa blocked Morocco’s entry into the organization in 2017.

“We shall advocate for the solidarity and self-determination of Western Sahara. Morocco must understand that we do not support them and that an oppressor has no business being a member of the AU “said Mbalula.

  • Reuters