Following a sitting of the President’s Coordinating Council (PCC) as well as a special sitting of Cabinet on the evening of Monday 27 February 2023, government has Gazetted the regulations which give effect to the National State of Disaster pertaining to the impact of Severe Electricity Supply Constraints.
The National State of Disaster was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his 2023 State of the Nation Address and declared by the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs on 9 February 2023 in line with the provisions of the National Disaster Management Act, Act 57 of 2002.
In setting out the rationale for the declaration, President Ramaphosa said, “The state of disaster will enable us to provide practical measures that we need to take to support businesses in the food production, storage and retail supply chain, including for the rollout of generators, solar panels and uninterrupted power supply. Where technically possible, it will enable us to exempt essential infrastructure such as hospitals and water treatment plants from load shedding.”
There is a deep appreciation that South Africa, as during the uncertainty of the global pandemic, finds itself in unchartered waters where our constrained energy supply has moved beyond an inconvenience to impact livelihoods and jeopardise our economic advances.
The extent of the devastation caused by our electricity constraints is a disaster that calls for significant and urgent relief efforts. While there may be differing views how to deal with our energy situation, there is widespread consensus that enormity of the challenge requires immediate extraordinary measures.
The regulations aim to assist, protect and provide relief to the public; protect property; prevent and combat disruption; and to deal with the destructive nature and other effects of the disaster by:
(a) Minimising the impact of load shedding on livelihoods, the economy, policing functions, national security, security services, education services, health services, water services, food security, communications and municipal services;
(b) Reducing and managing the impact of load shedding on service delivery to support lifesaving and specified essential infrastructure;
(c) Providing measures to enable the connection of new generation of electricity; and
(d) Providing measures to improve Eskom’s plant performance.
The regulations set out the responsibilities of the different organs of state towards strengthening measures in line with the National Energy Action Plan, to prevent the escalation of severe electricity supply constraints, mitigate the impact of the severe load shedding currently experienced, and avert a national emergency.
It empowers government departments to implement a raft of measures to protect the public interest by minimising disruptions and deal with the disruptive effects of load shedding. It ensures an effective and integrated response across all spheres of government to prevent or reduce the risk of a disaster, and mitigate its impact.
Under the regulations, Cabinet Ministers can issue directions within their area of focus to address the current electricity shortfall and prevent an escalation of the energy crisis to where it has a worse impact on our society and economy. They can further support specific areas where protection is required, such as our critical water infrastructure and health facilities. This allows for decisive action in key areas that will embolden our nation’s efforts to address our energy crisis.
The continuous provision of services will be achieved through the installation of alternative energy sources, measures to provide an uninterrupted power supply and essential infrastructure being exempted from load-shedding schedules. These exemptions will be undertaken in a manner that does not result in an increased risk of placing the national grid under pressure. It also allows for the release of personnel across the various state organs for the rendering of emergency services.
The regulations enable emergency procurement procedures in line with the Public Finance Management Act, Municipal Finance Management Act and Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act. They do however make specific provision for the affected Accounting Officers to report on regular intervals to the Auditor-General on expenditure incurred in implementing these regulations. Similarly, the regulations require regular reporting to Parliament on these expenses.
The regulations facilitate the importation of electricity by Eskom from neighbouring countries. Funding interventions, relief schemes and benefits during the national state of disaster will also be enacted, the availability of existing funds and the scale of additional resources required, considered. Consumers will be protected from excessive pricing of goods and services and availability of the supply of goods and services will be secured during the national state of disaster.
Commenting on the newly Gazetted regulations, Minister Gungubele said, “Government is confident that regulations will provide the extra-ordinary measures required to deal with our energy constraints. These regulations come into operation on the date of publication in the Government Gazette. The development of the regulations is the result of extensive consultations between key role players across all spheres of government. It represents the best available options appropriate to the situation the country finds itself and within the limited available resources available to address our energy challenges.”
Nomonde Mnukwa- Acting Cabinet Spokesperson
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