By Staff Reporter

The government has cancelled the “state of disaster” that was put in place in February to handle the severe electricity crisis.

President Cyril Ramaphosa had declared disaster regulations to combat the crisis caused by Eskom’s daily power cuts due to the breakdown of its old coal-fired power stations and corruption over the years.

The state of disaster had granted the government more authority to tackle the crisis, such as allowing emergency procurement procedures with less bureaucracy and oversight.

In an official statement released on Wednesday, Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) Minister Thembi Nkadimeng said the government will use existing legislation and contingency plans to address the impact of power cuts.

The Energy Crisis Committee will be leading these efforts. Additionally, newly appointed Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has visited the power stations of the affected utility and engaged in consultations with both the government and Eskom to find solutions to the electricity shortages.

CoGTA said its decision to terminate the disaster regulations was in light of these developments.

The national state of disaster was initially implemented to facilitate a more rapid response by health authorities to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, some experts expressed scepticism regarding its potential to enhance the electricity supply.

Additionally, the legislation was subject to a legal challenge by the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse OUTA, a non-profit organisation dedicated to combating government corruption and tax malfeasance.

OUTA has asserted that the government rescinded its proclamation of a nationwide state of disaster in response to the legal proceedings brought forth by the organisation, which contested its soundness.

“The state is withdrawing the national state of disaster in response to OUTA’s legal action challenging its rationality.”

According to OUTA, the disaster regulations had the potential to facilitate corrupt practices, and the current situation could be effectively addressed by utilising the laws already in place.

Since the start of the year, Eskom has carried out planned power outages, resulting in households and businesses experiencing up to 10 hours of electricity deprivation daily. These outages have adversely affected households and small enterprises.

Eskom has refrained from commenting on the status of disaster withdrawal until it has had discussions with the government.

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