Ramaphosa’s declaration is made as South Africa’s energy sector struggles with prolonged daily power blackouts known as load shedding.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a state disaster immediately to address the country’s severe electricity shortage, which has led to prolonged power outages.
“Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures. Ramaphosa stated that the energy crisis poses a serious threat to the economy and the social fabric in his State of the Nation speech on Thursday night.
As rolling power cuts that last up to eight hours per hour are hitting homes, factories, and businesses in the nation of 60 millions, the declaration of a “state of emergency” is made. A state of emergency was previously established to address the COVID-19 pandemic that will hit 2020 and the devastating floods that claimed more than 400 lives last year.
Ramaphosa claims that the declaration will allow his government to exempt vital services such as hospitals and water treatment plants, and to purchase additional power from neighboring countries in an emergency.
The government will be able to help businesses deal with widespread power outages, such as making diesel-powered generators more accessible and solar panels available to all.
Eskom, the country’s power utility, is unable produce sufficient power because of frequent breakdowns at its coal-fired power stations.
Ramaphosa also stated that he would appoint an electricity minister, whose sole purpose would be to address the electricity crisis. A position previously occupied him during his tenor as deputy president in the Zuma administration.
Ramaphosa’s speech was delayed 45 minutes due to disruptions from members of parliament from left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters opposition group. They were eventually removed by security personnel.
Julius Malema from the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) mentioned that Ramaphosa has been tasked for over 10 years to fix the utility giant and has failed dismally over the years. He has turned the country into a dictatorship evident when armed guards were used in the parliament.
After the resignation of David Mabuza, Deputy President of the African National Congress party and other changes in leadership, he is expected to reshuffle the cabinet. Ramaphosa will appoint Paul Mashatile, the newly elected ANC vice president, to replace Mabuza.
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