South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, (ANC) has asked top officials to declare a national state of disaster in order to end the severe electricity blackouts that have wreaked havoc on Africa’s most industrialised nation, its secretary general said on Tuesday.
Declaring a national disaster would free up additional funds and resources to “better manage the crisis,” Fikile Mbalula said at a news conference following the party’s new executive committee’s weekend meeting.
The years-long crisis of intermittent power outages has worsened in recent months, with Eskom’s electricity network failing to keep up with demand as it struggles to maintain its ageing coal-powered infrastructure.
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“We shouldn’t be arrogant and deny the fact that we have… a crisis,” Mbalula told the news conference,”. “We are responding to this crisis, and the president and the team in government have been given clear instruction by the ANC,”.
He said that the move would speed up the response of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration, with a target of ending the blackouts by year-end.
The scheduled blackouts, which can last from two hours to over 12 hours a day, have sparked widespread anger and taken a heavy toll on industrial production and businesses. South Africa’s economic growth is expected to slow to just 0.3 per cent this year because of the power shortages, after growth of 2.5 per cent last year.
Opposition parties have vowed to stage more protests against the government’s response to the blackouts after the most recent mass demonstrations last week drew several thousands of people into the streets.
This story was adapted from Punch.