Legal Action Taken Against Loadshedding State Of Disaster Declaration


President Cyril Ramaphosa recently declared a National State of Disaster regarding the energy crisis the country has been battling. However, not all are in support or agreeance of this decision, with one group pushing back with legal force. 



Solidarity Trade Union has taken legal action against the National State of Disaster in regards to the energy crisis, recently announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his annual State of the Nation Address (SONA).

The address took place during the evening of Thursday, 9 February 2023. 

The trade union is taking aim at the Disaster Management Act under which the decision was taken, launching an urgent application for the disaster declaration to be reviewed in the Pretoria High Court.

Solidarity (who recognizes that we are in fact in a crisis) is arguing that the loadshedding dilemma "does not meet the definition of a disaster", according to what is stipulated within the Act; the group feels that declaring a National State of Disaster is taking it too far. 

"There's a difference between a crisis and a National State of Disaster, where unfitted rights are given to the government to deal with such a crisis. This is not a National State of Disaster; there is a crisis, [but] there are tools available to government to deal with it," says Solidarity's Head of Legal Affairs, Anton Van Der Bijl.

Van Der Bijl says that the decision to declare a National State of Disaster is "irrational", and the group is asking that the High Court review Ramaphosa's declaration, as they feel that there were no accompanying regulations, and it was driven by "improper motives". 

"In terms of the Disaster Management Act, a disaster can only be enacted if it falls within the ambit of the framework of that specific Act; so therefore, a crisis must be unforeseen, it must be extraordinary and there must be no other means to alleviate the consequences of the disaster. We [Solidarity] say that this disaster was not unforeseen, this is the effect of 16 years of [the] mismanagement of has been oncoming for the past 16 years," explained Van Der Bijl. 

Van Der Bijl also says that when looking at the different Departments and state-owned companies that work in partnership with Eskom, they are all (in some kind of way) in crisis; therefore this situation is not one that is "extraordinary".

The State of Disaster was declared in response to the severity of loadshedding the country has been experiencing and the instability of Eskom and lack of electricity that comes with it.

Solidarity is of the belief that there are sufficient solutions to the electricity crisis, present in already-existing legislation and contingency arrangements. Declaring a National State of Disaster, according to Solidarity, is "giving power to the same entity that has mismanaged this crisis for 16 years". 

"There's ample tools in the government's toolbox to deal with the situation. Look at the Public Finance Management Act, look at the Electricity Generation Act, and you'll see there's a lot of tools that can be used to alleviate this crisis," elaborated Van Der Bijl. 

In addition to the declaration, a new Minister of Electricity is also going to be implemented as another measure to combat the situation South Africa is in. 

Solidarity says that government should begin taking action, and stop making promises they won't keep in order to save face for next year's elections. 


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South Africa has been experiencing the worst loadshedding since rolling blackouts started 16 years ago. Speaking at the 2023 Mining Indaba, Energy and Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe revealed that power cuts cost the economy at least R1-billion a day in 2022.




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