South Africa’s government on Wednesday revoked a national “state of disaster” declared in February to manage a crippling electricity crisis but said that some emergency measures would remain in place.
The state of disaster gave the government additional powers to respond to the crisis, including by permitting emergency procurement procedures with fewer bureaucratic delays and less oversight.
The government will now work to reduce the impact of power cuts using existing legislation and contingency arrangements, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs minister Thembi Nkadimeng said in a statement.
The newly appointed electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa said some crisis measures would remain in place.
The deputy minister of cooperative governance, Parks Tau, said that since the establishment of the ministry of electricity, there had been discussions about whether the “state of disaster” was still necessary.
But the disaster status was being challenged in court and the civil rights group bringing the lawsuit was quick to take credit for its withdrawal
The state is withdrawing the national state of disaster in response to OUTA’s legal action challenging its rationality,” said OUTA, a non-profit organisation that focuses on fighting government corruption and tax abuses.
OUTA said the disaster regulations would have enabled corruption and that the crisis could be managed using existing laws.
State of disaster legislation was used to enable health authorities respond more swiftly to the COVID-19 pandemic, but some analysts doubted it would help the government expand power supply much quicker.
Ramaphosa invoked disaster regulations on Feb. 9 to fight a paralysing power crisis that has included daily rolling power cuts by Eskom.
Eskom has implemented scheduled electricity outages every day this year, with most households and businesses without power for up to 10 hours a day