Eskom Appeal of Load Shedding Court Ruling Instead of Fixing Power Crisis is Outrageous

ActionSA is outraged that, at a time when South Africa’s public finances are under severe strain, the President, the Minister of Electricity, and Eskom (and other organs of state), have rather elected to apply for leave to appeal the landmark judgement handed down by the Full Bench of the North Gauteng High Court on 1 December 2023. This judgment declared load shedding unconstitutional and ordered the Minister of Electricity – together with organs of state – ensure that electricity supply be ensured for public schools, hospitals, and the SAPS.

Eskom, the President and the Minister of Electricity specifically want to appeal sections of the ruling which ruled in favour of ActionSA’s request that hospitals, schools and police stations be exempted from experiencing rolling blackouts and allege that the judgment is too “vague”.

Instead of addressing the concerns raised by the court ruling – including that load shedding infringes on the basic constitutional rights of South Africans – and protecting the most vulnerable against the power crisis through exempting schools, police stations and hospitals, the President, the Minister and Eskom, have rather decided to spend taxpayer’s money to appeal the ruling.

It is well documented how communities across South Africa have been adversely affected by load shedding when police stations’ telephone lines don’t work, hospitals fail to take care of sick patients when the lights go off, or studies are interrupted at schools when they fail to have access to power. Government alleges in the appeal that there is “insufficient evidence” to demonstrate this obvious fact. It is our duty to protect these crucial services and it is deeply concerning that the President, the Minister, and Eskom simply do not care.

ActionSA will continue to do everything in our power to protect the most vulnerable South Africans from the failures of the ruling party and will take whatever steps necessary to ensure that the government is held accountable. In the 18 years since load shedding was first introduced in 2007, the ruling party has been unable to take action to address the energy crisis and ActionSA will therefore force action in this regard.

We thank our legal representatives and Adv Gillian Benson, who have tirelessly championed the matter on behalf of ActionSA in court, and we look forward to working with her to ensure that we keep the state accountable for its ongoing failures.

Load shedding remains one of our biggest inhibitors to job creation with thousands of small businesses forced to close as a result, while incidents of crime spike when load shedding occurs. Our children are sent home when schools cannot operate without power, and are left without daycare and feeding programmes. Hospitals and clinics are unable to save lives when the lights go out. This is simply unacceptable.

Despite the President initially “welcoming” the judgment, taxpayers are now forced to fund the extensive legal team – comprising numerous senior advocates – on behalf of government, to appeal the same judgment they opposed from inception. All of the so called “promises” to end load shedding are nothing more than blatant lies. The festive season shows that where there is political will, there is a way. Yet government has now reimplemented the refusal to comply with their obligations as of today.

As a party committed to the South African people, ActionSA will continue to place pressure on the national government to act in the best interests of our people, and protect our people from the devastating consequences of load shedding, and the government’s continued failure to provide other essential services.