More South Africans join calls for national state of disaster to address electricity crisis

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More South Africans are joining calls for a national state of disaster to address the country’s electricity crisis. This came out at the energy dialogue hosted by the Black Business Council (BBC).

They say the state of disaster will allow the government to treat the electricity crisis as an emergency by allocating more resources to respond to the challenge.

It’s a race against time as various sectors and captains of industries make their voices louder on solutions to resolve the country’s energy crisis. The Black Business Council wants among others the National State of Disaster declared on the country’s energy crisis.

They brought together various experts in the Energy industry to explore solutions to resolve the energy crisis.

“People, professionals, entrepreneurs and a range of other people that happen to be black in this country, they have hope in us and I think that’s where we need to start from. In terms of how we then deal with Eskom, how do you deal with energy in terms of dealing with the security of energy in the country? These are some of the things that we are advancing,” explains the President of the Black Business Council, Elias Monage.

Most speakers agreed that government must treat the crisis of the rolling blackouts with the urgency it deserves and take inputs set down in the Black Business Council’s white paper on solutions to the power crisis into consideration.

“We believe that we have reached a stage where we need more powerful levers and declaring a state of disaster is one of those levers because it will then allow for a faster turnaround on some of the key remedial actions as we’ve seen with Covid. Number 2, strengthen and empower the Eskom governance structures to manage the state of disaster conditions, the governance of Eskom on what must I do to strengthen it so that they may work through the state of disaster,” says Erinite Energy Director, Jacob Maroga.

‘Lack of political will’

The country has experienced rolling blackouts for 16 years.  Economists say the reason the country still finds itself here is the result of the lack of political will from the ruling party.

“Unfortunately the South African government for the last 16 years has refused to be accountable for what had been happening in terms of load shedding. We’ve been ushered from one crisis to the other and unfortunately, we might have reached the presuppose of this disaster. I do join the calls of numerous people such as the BBC who are calling for a national state of disaster on the electricity crisis. This is especially imperative. It is a call for regime change because of what has been happening,” claims Independent Energy Economist, Lungile Mashele.

Government representatives have welcomed recent public engagements and partnerships to deal with the energy crisis.

“An important point for this meeting is the layer that is outside of government which we call additional capacity has been mobilised and I believe engagements with people outside of government also enhance the options that we look at. There are certain external experts that we are borrowing from, project managers, legal experts and energy policy experts,” says the Chief Director at the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, Thabang Audat.

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Taking to the streets

Some attending the BBC Energy Indaba have threatened to take to the streets saying their businesses and the economy are in dire straits as load shedding persists.

“As black people, we are saying now it’s time for us to do exactly what we have done during apartheid to let the government know that we are not satisfied with the way they are driving or governing the country. And the only language that they understand properly is when we toyi-toyi as we did with apartheid, it was not won in the boardrooms it was defeated in the streets, now we are going to the streets to force the government to implement things that we have suggested to them,” says BBC delegate, James Gadinabokao.

Finance minister, Enoch Godongwana is expected to use his budget speech next month to announce major debt relief for Eskom. But the black industrialists, engineers and economists at the energy indaba believe more still needs to be done.

The BBC will put together the inputs from the dialogue to be presented to the president in the coming days.  They believe a state of disaster will see galvanize efforts to unlock resources to address the current electricity constraints.

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