Load shedding: Groups approach court to get govt to account for energy crisis

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  • Political parties, unions and other interested groups are seeking an urgent court hearing on measures to mitigate the impact of load shedding.
  • Leaders of the group announced the move in a media briefing on Monday.
  • They want the hearing to take place on 28 February, after which the government will have seven days to present a detailed plan to tackle load shedding.

Several political parties, unions, community-based organisations and individuals have approached the Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to seek an urgent hearing on relief measures amid continued load shedding.

The group, which includes Build One South Africa (BOSA), the United Democratic Movement and the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, among others, announced the move in a media briefing on Monday.

Other organisations include:

  • ActionSA
  • Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)
  • South African Federation of Trade Unions (Saftu)
  • Democracy in Action
  • Lukhona Mnguni
  • It wants the recently approved tariff increase by the National Energy Regulator of SA scrapped and several public facilities, including schools and small businesses, exempted from load shedding.

    In an affidavit filed in court, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa says the application is in two parts (interim and final relief), of which the first proposes an exemption of power outages in the healthcare, education, water and sanitation and the food sectors.

    It also seeks to hold the respondents to account and compel them to disclose a plan to mitigate the crisis.

    The respondents are listed as Eskom, the minister and director-general of public enterprises, the president, minister and director-general of mineral resources and energy, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, and the government of South Africa.

    The group wants President Cyril Ramaphosa, ministers Pravin Gordhan and Gwede Mantashe, among the other respondents, to issue a plan detailing how they would prevent the impact of load shedding, with the main focus on:

    • Ensuring that electricity supply is not terminated or reduced;
    • Steps to maintain Eskom's infrastructure; and
    • Addressing the impact of load shedding on public health, education and employment.

    BOSA leader Mmusi Maimane said the lack of accountability for the people responsible for Eskom's woes had plunged the country's economy into trouble. 

    "The government must come to court and explain why people must die in hospitals. They can't lie in court or invent stories about sabotage.

    "In which universe can any particular government cost the economy to the extent that it is, and nobody is held accountable? This is not a natural disaster. It's a human disaster ... so, who are the humans responsible for it?" Maimane asked. 

    He said the persistent power cuts sabotaged the country's economy and people's livelihoods. 

    "If you go to war and attack a country, the first area you would hit is its energy supply to render the country dysfunctional. Therefore, we feel that the action taking place at the moment is tantamount to sabotaging the South African economy," Maimane said.

    In his affidavit, Holomisa said the State had been given ample opportunity to address the energy crisis since 2007.

    "Instead, we have heard repeated assurances, from commitments that load shedding is over, to promises that the matter is being attended to. However, evidently there is no end in sight, and the time has now come for judicial intervention, with little if any other alternative," he stated.

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