The disaster regulations had been in place for almost two months
South Africa has lifted the ‘state of emergency’ declared in February to deal with the country’s crippling electricity crisis. The measure had been a necessary response to the economic impact and harm caused by critical levels of load shedding on vulnerable sectors, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Thembi Nkadimeng said in a statement on Wednesday.
President Cyril Ramaphosa invoked the measure on February 9 to address the crisis, during which there were daily rolling power cuts by state utility Eskom due to frequent breakdowns at its coal-fired power stations.
According to Nkadimeng, the state of emergency granted the government greater authority to manage the crisis, including the ability to procure emergency resources with fewer bureaucratic hurdles and less oversight.
He said the country will now rely on existing laws and contingency plans to mitigate the impact of power cuts through its Energy Crisis Committee.
As part of these efforts, the newly appointed Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has visited Eskom’s power stations in recent weeks for consultations. Eskom’s exemption from the Public Finance Management Act was recently revoked in order for additional consultations with the auditor-general and Eskom’s auditors to be carried out. The government has said that this decision, among other developments, influenced the ending of the state of emergency.
The use of state of emergency legislation to manage South Africa’s electricity crisis was criticized by some analysts and even challenged in court by the non-profit Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), which contended that the crisis could have been handled using existing laws.