Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has been ordered by the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to take the required actions by January 31, 2024, to ensure that there is no disruption of the electricity supply in public hospitals, clinics, schools, and police stations.

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The Gauteng High Court in Pretoria has issued an order to Electricity Minister Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, directing him to take necessary measures to avoid any disruption of electricity supply in public hospitals, clinics, schools, and police stations by 31 January 2024. This ruling has placed significant pressure on the government.

Despite the public promise made by ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula to eliminate load shedding by the end of the year, South Africa has persisted in experiencing episodes of sporadic power outages, impacting households, businesses, and public institutions.

The Presidency has said it is studying the landmark court ruling: “The Presidency and affected departments note the judgement handed down by the Pretoria High Court on the matter between the UDM, others, and Eskom, others.

“The Presidency is studying the judgement and will, in due course, pronounce on further steps on the matter.”

Meanwhile, opposition parties have expressed their support for the ruling. The Democratic Alliance, one of the opposition parties that took legal action to put an end to load shedding, maintains that the court has unequivocally declared the ongoing load shedding as “a violation of human rights”.

“It lays bare the culpability of the ANC, emphasising that state capture, mismanagement and cadre deployment by the ruling party, are the root causes of our energy crisis. 

“The court’s order, though potentially unenforceable due to the severity of the crisis, is a resounding message that the ANC’s actions have led to a breach of citizens’ rights.

“While the proposed solutions are imperative from a human rights standpoint, it is acknowledged that they may not provide immediate or long-term relief from load-shedding. 

“Nevertheless, this moment serves as a powerful testament to the impact of opposition pressure and civil society’s voice in holding the ANC accountable.

“The consolidation of cases and the resultant judgment, serve as a scathing indictment against the ANC.

“It reinforces the DA’s longstanding assertion that incompetence, cadre deployment, corruption and mismanagement by the ANC, are the driving forces behind load-shedding,” said DA shadow minister for Issued by Kevin Mileham MP, DA shadow minister of mineral resources and energy.

With the Chinese government having this week handed over to Ramokgopa, the first consignment of energy equipment donation – part of the Technical Assistance Programme entered by the two countries in August, during a state visit to SA by Chinese President Xi Jinping – SA’s short-term solution to the crisis seemed hinged on the Chinese assistance.

The first shipment to arrive in the country consists of 450 gasoline generator sets – shipped from Shanghai Port of China to the Port of Durban.

At least 500 public facilities across the country are set to benefit, with generators being used as a backup to alleviate the impact of load shedding in clinics, schools and courts.

While the first batch only accounted for 5.8% of the total amount of assistance to SA, the Chinese ambassador to South Africa Chen Xiaodongsaid China was “working hard to overcome the difficulties of early production and separate shipment”.

He said the next consignment valued at R150 million, would include five power supply trucks, 39 sets of diesel generators and 60 sets of solar energy storage power supply systems.

In his remarks during the handing over ceremony in Pietermaritzburg, Chen saidhe was confident that “under the strong leadership of the government and with help from friends like China, South Africa will have stronger power supply very soon and people’s lives will be improved”.

“As South Africa’s good friend, partner and brother, China can very much relate to the difficulties faced by SA.

“We decided very quickly to provide support to your side, including emergency energy equipment, technical experts, expertise and personnel training.

“We have also been working to advance our cooperation in the field of electricity and energy, to assist South Africa in responding to the crisis,” said Chen.

During Xi’s state visit to South Africa, China and SA signed several cooperation agreements, which included energy.

Said Chen: “We are confident that this package of equipment will make a good contribution to South Africa’s efforts to alleviate the power shortage.

“We gave each other support and we together fought against apartheid. We also assisted each other in responding to Covid-19. 

“Through all the common struggles, our two peoples forged a comrades-plus, brothers’ special bond.”

In recent years, power and energy cooperation has increasingly become “a driver and a highlight of our two sides’ practical cooperation”. 

“Through direct investment or contracting, Chinese companies successfully participated in several major new energy projects in South Africa. 

“That made a good contribution to promoting local economic growth and improving people’s livelihood. 

“Longyuan Power, a Chinese company, has built the De Aar Wind Farm Project in the Northern Cape, which has so far provided clean electricity supply to around 300 000 households. 

“In June this year, the Chinese embassy in South Africa organised the China-South Africa New Energy Investment and Cooperation Conference.

“At the Conference, the over 170 new energy companies on both sides reached a good number of economic and trade cooperation results.

“As we speak, China and South Africa face the historic task of speeding up energy transformation and securing sustainable economic development. 

“China is actively advancing high-quality development. 

“We are vigorously developing the new energy sector. 

“In terms of the technology, capital and human talent in new energy, we are at the forefront of the whole world,” he said.

Chen said 25 years of SA-China relations “achieved leapfrog development – from partnership, strategic partnership to comprehensive strategic partnership”.

“Our relations set a fine example for China-Africa relations and South-South cooperation. 

“Today’s ceremony not only demonstrates the Chinese government’s strong support for the South African government in navigating the crisis but also conveys the friendship of the Chinese people for the South African people.

“The Chinese people have best wishes for the South African people – to overcome load-shedding as soon as possible,” added Chen.

In welcoming the donation from China, Build One South Africa has called on the government to fix the energy crisis in the country, because it was “legally obliged and responsible for delivering uninterrupted electricity to crucial sectors”.

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