The Post

Government to blame for our dark age

SOUTH Africa has experienced more than 15 years of load shedding. And there is still no light at the end of the long, dark tunnel.

Households experience disruption of daily routines such as cooking, cleaning, studying and home entertainment.

The country’s economy has taken a substantial dent. All sectors, from large corporations down to individual employees have been affected by reduced productivity, increased costs, job losses and reduced foreign investment.

Communities have been affected by traffic problems, security issues and closure of public amenities during power cuts.

Does President Ramaphosa really understand what load shedding is doing to the nation?

Has he, personally, experienced load shedding at work or home? Most unlikely because the lights stay on at his offices in the Union Buildings and at Tuynhuys. There is no power disruption to his official residences, Mahlamba Ndlopfu and Genadendal.

In February this year, President Ramaphosa said he did not have a legal duty to end load shedding. In papers filed in reply to a constitutional challenge on load shedding, he said it did not constitute a dereliction of duty on his part or that of the national government, as the law placed the responsibility for electricity provision on municipalities.

And since there was nothing in the Constitution or any other law that compelled him to provide electricity to the public, he could not be accused of failing to uphold the Constitution because the lights were not staying on.

Opposition parties sought an urgent interdict compelling the state to exempt certain sectors from load shedding to ensure the provision of basic services, including health care, education, policing, water and sanitation.

Hence, as load shedding continues to cripple South Africa, the landmark ruling this week by the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, is a small victory for ordinary people.

It concluded that the power cuts affecting public facilities were unconstitutional and illegal, and ordered the Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, to take all reasonable steps to ensure that public hospitals, clinics, schools and police stations had uninterrupted electricity by January 31, during load shedding.

According to the judge, load shedding was caused by the failure of the state. The court concluded that power cuts that interrupted public facilities’ services infringed on the basic rights of South Africans.

The court said load shedding was a result of the government’s failure to open the electricity generation market, implement the Independent Power Procurement (IPP) programme, the delays in constructing Medupi and Kusile, and failure to protect Eskom from criminal activity, corruption and state capture.

Meanwhile, where is the accountability and management of local municipalities? In oThongathi, while the police station remains plunged in darkness during load shedding, the floodlights at the local sportsground remain on 24/7.

Is it not time that someone is held to account for the darkness in our country?





African News Agency