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Picture :Freddy Mavunda/Business Day
Picture :Freddy Mavunda/Business Day

After months of calling for a state of disaster to be declared on Eskom, the DA is going to court to prevent it.

During his state of the nation address (Sona) last week, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster to respond to the electricity crisis with immediate effect.

He said the state of disaster would enable government to provide practical measures it needs to take to support businesses in the food production, storage and retail supply chain, including the rollout of generators, solar panels and uninterrupted power supply.

The move has been gazetted by co-operative governance and traditional affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.

DA leader John Steenhuisen said the party was heading to court to challenge the declaration of an electricity state of disaster. 

He said the DA did not want a formal national state of disaster like the one declared, but a “ring-fenced” state of disaster around Eskom.

“A state of disaster under the guise of dealing with the load-shedding crisis will similarly empower the ANC to abuse procurement processes and issue nonsensical regulations that have nothing to do with the electricity crisis. The DA will not sit back and allow the ANC to abuse the electricity disaster it created to loot and further abuse the people of SA,” Steenhuisen said.

Writing to SCA

The DA wrote to the judge president of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) for an urgent court date to hear its existing challenge to the constitutionality of section 27 of the Disaster Management Act (DMA).

“Should the DA’s application be successful, it will stop the recently declared state of disaster before it starts, and spare South Africans Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma’s penchant to abuse power using the DMA,” said DA MP Cilliers Brink.

Brink said what constituted a disaster was vaguely defined and the decision almost amounted to discretion. 

“Once such a national state of disaster is declared, the selfsame minister obtains the power to make regulations and issue directions concerning vast swathes of ordinary life, and to authorise others to do the same. Before the state of disaster expires, the same minister has the power to extend such a national state of disaster for a period of one month at a time, ad infinitum.”

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