South Africa declares a state of national disaster as blackouts cripple the country

Blackout - Image Yevhen Prozhyrko /

South Africa´s President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally acted declaring a state of national disaster more than 25 years after the ANC government were told the country would soon run out of electricity.

Successive blackouts of up to 12 hours a day have been brought about by corruption, a lack of investment in new capacity and ageing infrastructure.

Local newspapers report that the country´s economy has been crippled by severe electricity shortages.

For years it has been apparent that the country would run out of capacity but despite this being the case, the government made it near impossible for anyone else to produce electricity. A problem that could have easily been sorted through private investment has been allowed to bring the country to its knees.

President Rampahosa referring to the latest economic forecasts that suggest growth barely above zero per cent, said: “We are therefore declaring a national state of disaster to respond to the electricity crisis and its effects.”

The state of disaster will allow the government to remove some of the regulatory hurdles, as it will open government coffers to allow additional funding. Ramaphosa also intends to appoint an Electricity Minister to oversee the issue.

IFP leader, Velenkosini Hlabisa was damming SAYING: “We really don’t need a minister of electricity. We might end up with a minister of potholes, a minister of pit toilets. All we need is a minister that will deal with minerals and energy, and resolve the crisis around electricity.”

But with Escom, once a thriving state-owned company, bankrupt and fraught with internal issues, critics say this is too little too late.

Opposition Democratic Alliance Chief Whip Siviwe Gwarube said: “I think South Africans have PTSD from the last time there was a state of disaster to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, where we saw essentially a looting frenzy because of course now procurement processes were allowed to be subverted and the like.”

Political economist Lisa Thompson said: “President Ramaphosa and the presidency have basically taken all the darts that have been suggested across the energy sector and thrown them at the dartboard, hoping that something’s going to hit bullseye so we have a national state of disaster now and hopefully that will roll in action very quickly.”

State electricity provider Eskom is mired in corruption and financial mismanagement under former President Jacob Zuma, but Ramaphosa has been slow to take remedial action. Critics say that although he has now done, declaring a state of national disaster to deal with the blackouts crippling the country was unnecessary and won´t deal with the issue.

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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]