Cape Town - Opposition parties on Thursday criticised the recently announced national state of disaster on energy and the planned appointment of a new Minister of Electricity by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Speaking during a mini-debate in the National Assembly, ACDP chief whip Steve Swart said his party shared doubts the interventions would solve the systematic problems at Eskom.
Swart said just as there was a thought that state capture and corruption were exposed, it was not just ongoing but has reached newer and higher levels of intensity.
He noted that former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter exposed the rot at the power utility and that R1 billion was stolen a month at the entity.
“The ACDP commends Mr de Ruyter for his courageous stance.
“However, we regret that he did not lay criminal charges, as he should have done.
“The information was however not kept secret.
“It was shared, and one trusts that it is being investigated,” he said. Swart noted that under the newly-published regulations, ministers could issue directives to address shortfalls and prevent the escalation of the energy crisis.
“It appears neither Eskom or the government departments have proper plans to solve the power utility problem in the short term. The electricity crisis can in our view be addressed under existing legislation and procedures,” he said.
Swart also said the regulations would create more opportunities for fraud and corruption.
“This is particularly so when one considers the irrational regulations under Covid-19 state of disaster.”
He decried that Parliament had no say over the electricity regulations and even how long the state of disaster would last.
“The country could be under a permanent state of disaster for all we know,” Swart said.
DA MP Ghaleb Cachalia said while the measures aimed to guarantee uninterrupted power supply and exemption of essential infrastructure from load shedding schedules were welcomed, there was limited information about how the new electricity generation would be connected and how Eskom's plant performance would be improved.
“As for the new electricity ministry, my colleague Leon Schreiber has calculated it could cost the country more than R37 million a year.
“Clearly the president has chosen to abuse the crisis to create more cushy jobs for useless cadres,’ Cachalia said.
“What is required is an enabling framework to fix the disaster the ANC has created and not carte blanche for ministerial meddling,” he said.
EFF MP Khanya Ceza said the declaration of state of disaster and ministry of electricity were palace politics and have nothing to do with people who suffer blackouts on a daily basis.
“We have to stand up on March 20 and demand the immediate resignation of Mr Ramaphosa and the restoration of electricity,” Ceza said.
He called on various sectors of society to join the national shutdown his party would embark on later this month.
IFP MP Mzamo Buthelezi said the declaration of the state of disaster revealed that the ANC government has failed tremendously.
Buthelezi said his party did not trust anything will change.
“The state of disaster is a gateway to looting money as we have seen during Covid-19 pandemic.
“For the ANC it is an easy way to channel money to associates,” he said.
Freedom Front Plus leader Petrus Groenewald said electricity blackouts were a disaster created by the government more than a decade ago.
“You cannot solve a disaster by the same people who created the disaster.
“The ANC won’t be able to solve this problem,” Groenewald said.
He noted that the disaster was declared on February 9 yet the regulations came 21 days later.
“There is no urgency from the government to deal with this disaster.
“If there was urgency, they would not have waited this long,” Groenewald said.
ANC MP Khaya Magaxa said the opposition was launching attacks on the interventions made on the energy crisis.
“No one among them is coming up with better solutions, instead they talk about wishes.
“They wish the ANC can be removed from power,” Magaxa said.