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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Eskom’s Crisis: What is the disaster situation in South Africa? 

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South Africa’s president has declared a state of Disaster to deal with a debilitating and unprecedented energy crisis. South Africans face power outages every day, severely impacting their homes and businesses, but what difference will this emergency response make? “We must act to mitigate the impact of the crisis on farmers, small businesses, water infrastructure, transport networks, and the many sectors and facilities that support people’s livelihoods,” he said in his State of the Union address said in on  Thursday.

Before a clapping crowd, he announced: “We are therefore declaring a national state of disaster to respond to the electricity crisis and its effect.” President Ramaphosa outlined that the escalation of the crisis would allow the government to implement “practical measures that we need to take to support businesses,” he said, highlighting those in food production and retail supply chains. A state of disaster effectively means that the government is given additional powers to resolve a crisis with less bureaucracy, regulation, and extra funds.

However, further details of what will change have not been made public, with one analyst, Ted Blom, telling the AFP news agency that “we don’t know what the government actually plans to do”. A state of disaster was also implemented during the covid pandemic and saw some people abusing the emergency measure. The appointment of the Minister of Electricity was also announced, with full responsibility for overseeing all aspects of the response to the electricity crisis”.
But this new position was ridiculed online with some saying he didn’t know how to resolve the crisis and others saying the country could soon become a “potholes” minister. The president also outlined plans for the country to continue its green energy transition program, including “deploying solar panels on roofs. According to the International Energy Agency, South Africa relies heavily on aging coal-fired power plants for its electricity.

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