ActionSA Wary of ANC Abuse of Potential National State of Disaster

ActionSA notes reports of the potential implementation of a National State of Disaster relating to the continued rolling blackouts and the devastating effect it has on the national economy. Again, South Africans are made to suffer Stage 6 load shedding this week.

ActionSA acknowledges that South Africa faces and energy crisis that may justify a State of Disaster, but we oppose the implementation of such drastic measures under the leadership of the ANC.

While we recognise the need for urgent action on the energy crisis, we must not lose sight of the fact that those that are now wishing to use emergency powers to resolve the crisis are the very architects of the disaster. Apart from the fact that this is a crisis of the ANC’s making, the ANC has proven time and again that they are incapable of utilising the powers under the Disaster Management Act responsibly or effectively. We cannot afford a repeat of the abuse of power seen during the COVID-19 State of Disaster.

The ANC showed just exactly how heartless it is by exploiting tender processes during COVID while thousands of people were dying. There is no reason to believe that this time will be any different. Additionally, the timing of this action cannot be ignored: the sudden urgency is more likely anchored in the ANC’s fear of being punished in the 2024 General Election than it is based on a true commitment to improve the lives of South Africans.

Notwithstanding the devastating effects of the ANC-sponsored corruption, we must also remember the wide range of irrational, arbitrary and absurd regulations imposed by power-hungry ministers. Will South Africans once again be banned from buying hot food, merely because electricity is used in its preparation?

We also note with concern this most recent development in light of President Ramaphosa’s decision to shift responsibility of the political oversight over Eskom to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, under the leadership of Minister Gwede Mantashe. We are unequivocal in our belief that Minister Mantashe must be fired and held accountable for his abject and border-line criminal failure as custodian of our energy security over the past five years. Yet, this newest move only seems to reward his incompetence with more sweeping powers.

Finally, we are also of the opinion that there is a high likelihood that the implementation of the National State of Disaster will be challenged in Court, further tying up government resources and delaying action.

Should the government decide to continue with its plan to implement a National State of Disaster, ActionSA demands the following:

  1. Removal of Gwede Mantashe from the National Cabinet and his exclusion from any decision-making bodies established under the Disaster Management Act.
  2. Full publication of any legal opinions obtained regarding the legal considerations of declaring a National State of Disaster for the energy crisis.
  3. Pro-active corruption prevention mechanisms to ensure that no money is stolen, no bribes are paid and no contracts are overpriced. These mechanisms should include appointing representatives of the NPA to the National Disaster Management Centre (or equivalent body established in law) with powers to proactively monitor all procurement processes undertaken under the National State of Disaster.
  4. Strict contractual terms for all emergency procurement mechanisms, including severe penalties for any service providers delivering poor quality goods or services and contractual code of ethics undertakings for all parties involved in any procurement processes.
  5. Full transparency in all decision-making processes, by making all meetings related to action taken under the National State of Disaster open to the media, civil society, and opposition parties.
  6. The establishment of a parliamentary oversight body, with representation of the Auditor-General to monitor all decisions made under the National State of Disaster.
  7. The use of independent expert cost-benefit analyses to ensure that the short-term benefit of any emergency action does not cause undue long-term harm to our economy, environment, society, government finances or our political stability.

Even though we have zero faith in the ANC to do right by South Africa, we believe that these measures will allow the rest of South Africa to prevent the ANC from doing the only thing it does well: ensuring that their patronage network profits from their own governance failures.

ActionSA is committed to upholding the rule of law and should the state of emergency be declared to deal with the Eskom crisis, we will ensure that we keep a watchful eye on what goes on, and if needs be, will seek to have all those implicated in any wrongdoing face the full might of the law.