Why government decided to call off state of disaster

Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Thembi Nkadimeng. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Thembi Nkadimeng. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Apr 5, 2023


Minister of Co-operative Governance Thembi Nkadimeng, her deputy and Minister of Electricity Kgosi Ramokgopa have defended the end of the state of disaster by saying it had achieved measures to minimise the impact of load shedding on the economy.

Nkadimeng said on Wednesday that when the state of disaster was implemented in February, the country was faced with rolling blackouts of higher stages of load shedding.

Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance Parks Tau said the issue of litigation was one of the factors as well that got the government to review the national state of disaster.

Tau said the state of disaster allows the minister to review it every 30 days and this was the case this time around.

Nkadimeng said the measures that have been taken, including the appointment of a minister dedicated to resolving the energy crisis, has helped to ease the situation.

“Our decision to terminate this state of disaster is motivated by the fact that a number of measures that have been taken to achieve the objectives of relieving the impact have been able to assist in getting our systems and processes in place to ensure the government is ready to deal with the challenges they pursue,” said Nkadimeng.

The government’s announcement of the end of the state of disaster comes after it was also taken to court on the matter.

It was not the first time the government had faced legal challenges on the state of disaster or other policy issues.

When the lockdown was introduced during Covid-19 in 2020 the government was sued by political parties and civil society.

Tau said the issue of legal action against the state was one of the factors that was considered.

“Do we consider it in the context of litigation? Of course, you look at litigation and ask yourself ‘if we don’t have a state of disaster, do we need to be in court?’ If you don’t need the state of disaster you don’t go and brief senior counsel to say take me to court just so that we are in court. You arrive at a determination that, well, on the basis of the current review you don’t need to be in court. The point of the court becomes moot,” said Tau.

Ramokgopa refused to be drawn on the decision taken by Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana to withdraw the exemption granted to Eskom on reporting on fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

He said he had been visiting all of the power stations in the country in the past few weeks to look at the problems in those plants.

Ramokgopa said his immediate task was to reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding.

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