The DA is mitigating the current unfolding crises in SA

John Steenhuisen says Cape Town has sent professionals to assist in KZN, is working to buy electricity from IPPs


21 April 2022

The country is currently facing several interlinked crises, the most urgent being Eskom’s move to level 4 rolling blackouts, and the devastating floods in KwaZulu-Natal which have led to the re-imposition of the National State of Disaster. The Democratic Alliance is taking important action steps to ensure that these issues are managed in a way that benefits South Africans across the board.

KZN floods and National State of Disaster

The Disaster Management Act allows cabinet to bypass Parliament’s constitutionally mandated role of exercising oversight over the executive, and instead govern by issuing regulations that have not been subjected to parliamentary scrutiny. Cabinet abused this Act during the pandemic, to detrimental effect.

The DA has requested and been granted an ad hoc parliamentary committee to oversee all aspects of the National State of Disaster to respond to floods in KZN and the Eastern Cape. This will help to ensure that this time, public money benefits citizens rather than cadres. (Meantime, our legal challenge of the Disaster Management Act, to try to correct this flaw in the legislation, is making its way through the court system.)

Using parliamentary mechanisms, we are challenging  President Ramaphosa’s stated decision to give “humanitarian aid and health items” to Cuba when South Africans are suffering multiple crises here at home, with government being unable to afford to rebuild and repair after the KZN floods.

The DA-run City of Cape Town has sent a team of Fire and Rescue and Disaster Management professionals to assist in KZN and has also coordinated the collection and delivery of flood relief donations from Capetonians to flood victims there.

The dire situation in KZN is being compounded by the electricity supply issues which affect the ability to pump much needed water supplies.

Rolling blackouts

Levels 3 or 4 loadshedding will be in place till Friday 22 April and many more days of loadshedding can be expected this winter. Eskom’s inability to secure a stable electricity supply has reached crisis proportions, costing the country R500 million per loadshedding stage per day.

Unnecessary regulatory and approval delays are standing in the way of independent producers generating the 4000 to 6000 MW additional capacity desperately needed by Eskom.

The DA has called for this electricity crisis to be declared a State of Disaster so that an immediate moratorium can be placed on onerous government red tape.

At the same time, DA governments are working towards an energy-secure future. DA-led Cape Town is working to buy electricity directly from independent producers; to empower residents to generate and trade their own electricity via the City’s grid; and to expand its own generating capacity. Through its Steenbras hydroelectric system, it already protects residents from one stage of loadshedding.

DA-run Ekurhuleni has contracted 47 private power producers, with construction starting soon. DA-run Drakenstein Municipality’s Leliefontein pump-as-turbine station generates electricity using the same set of pumps that pump water, by reversing the flow. And the DA-run Western Cape government is putting solar panels on the roofs of schools and clinics so that these facilities can keep operating during rolling blackouts.

Longer term solutions

Working with energy experts, DA Head of Policy Gwen Ngwenya and her team have produced an energy policy for South Africa that charts the quickest, fairest path to a least-cost, reliable, clean energy future. This plan maps South Africa’s best route to a competitive economy and to playing our part in keeping global warming below 2°C and ideally below 1.5°C as per the Paris Agreement, to avoid the worst climate-related disasters.

Far from this being an elite pursuit, poor communities will be the key beneficiaries of clean energy, since they stand to suffer most from climate disruption, as we’ve seen with the KZN floods. Poor communities have the most to gain from more affordable, reliable energy, since they spend a higher proportion of their income on electricity, food and transport, and since they suffer most the impact of South Africa’s uncompetitive economy.

The DA has also put forward solutions for building a capable state that could better avoid and mitigate crises such as these. We’ve tabled the End Cadre Deployment bill that would see public officials appointed on their ability to serve the public. And we’ve pushed hard for cabinet ministers to be held accountable, through performance agreements and through a motion of no confidence.

Ultimately though, the best way to avoid and mitigate these crises, to build a resilient nation with buffer, is to vote in a government that takes South Africa’s problems seriously and drives solutions that benefit all the people of the country, rather than a connected few at the expense of the rest. In 2024, a vote for the DA will be a vote for nationwide resilience.

Warm regards,

John Steenhuisen