DA and Solidarity vow to fight state of disaster in court

Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen has announced that the official opposition will challenge the national state of disaster to address South Africa’s energy crisis in court.

“In the absence of any real solutions to the permanent loadshedding crisis created by the ANC, President Cyril Ramaphosa during his SONA address desperately grasped at the straw of a sweeping National State of Disaster,” Steenhuisen said in a statement as soon as the president concluded his speech.

“The DA can confirm that we have already briefed our lawyers to challenge the announcement in court.”

It is curious that the DA is opposing the declaration of a state of disaster after suggesting that one be declared.

Its suggestion dates back to at least April 2022, when it demanded that a state of disaster be declared at Eskom.

By December, that demand had become that government must declare a “ring-fenced state of disaster” on Eskom.

However, Steenhuisen has now said South Africa has been down this road before.

“During the Covid-19 disaster, we saw the fatal flaws in the National State of Disaster legislation, which allows the ANC unfettered power to loot without any parliamentary oversight,” he said.

“The DA is already in court to declare the Disaster Management Act unconstitutional, and we will now do the same to prevent the ANC looting frenzy that will follow Ramaphosa’s dangerous and desperate announcement like night follows day.”

Steenhuisen said South Africa could not survive another round of the looting and irrationality it saw during the Covid pandemic.

“Last time around, the lack of accountability under a National State of Disaster enabled Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma — who is again in charge of managing the ANC-made load shedding disaster — to issue nonsensical and economically destructive regulations that were entirely disconnected from Covid, including banning everything from cooked chicken to open-toed shoes and alcohol,” he said.

“A National State of Disaster under the guise of dealing with the loadshedding crisis will similarly empower the ANC to abuse procurement processes and issue nonsensical regulations that have nothing to do with the electricity crisis.”

Solidarity announces legal action

Dirk Hermann, Solidarity CEO

Solidarity also issued a statement shortly after Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address, saying it would take legal action against the state of disaster.

“Poor central control landed us in this crisis. Such poor control in even more measures will not get us out of the crisis. Everything the president announced in the State of the Nation Address can already be implemented by using existing legislation,” said Solidarity chief executive Dirk Hermann.

“The harsh reality is that all the instruments to solve the crisis are already at the president’s disposal — he simply chooses not to use them. Therefore, a state of disaster is irrational and unnecessary and leaves Solidarity with no option but to litigate.”

Hermann said they dare not allow a repeat of the government’s abuse of power that occurred during the Covid-19 state of disaster.

“The decision-making that led to a ban on warm chicken meals and flip-flops now wants to take the decisions about the energy crisis without proper oversight.”

Hermann said a state of disaster will not end the energy crisis any faster, but it opens the door to major abuse.

“This is quite simply a lose-lose situation,” he said.

“No amount of legislation will be able to rectify uselessness and incompetence. A state of disaster is equal to giving an incompetent builder a bigger hammer — it will not lead to better construction, but rather to more damage.”

Hermann said that over the past 16 years, the government has shown it cannot resolve the energy crisis.

“Instead of stepping out of the way and allowing the private and community sectors to solve the problem, the government once again insists on trying to take control of the crisis through the state of disaster,” said Hermann.

“It has not been effective during the past two decades; it will not be effective now either.”

Now read: South Africa declares national state of disaster for Eskom load-shedding

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DA and Solidarity vow to fight state of disaster in court