President Cyril Ramaphosa has declared the energy crisis in South Africa a national disaster.
He said this while presenting his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Parliament, in Cape Town City Hall on 09 February 2023.
In his speech which he spoke at length about energy challenges and solutions, Ramaphosa declared that the energy issue has reached a disaster level.
“We are therefore declaring the national state of disaster which will begin with immediate effect, as already gazetted by the Minister of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs,” said Ramaphosa.
Among other things, he said the is going to appoint a Minister of Electricity that will focus on putting the electricity problem to an end. The Minister will be operating from the Presidency and will work together with other relevant departments to end load shedding challenges.
Ramaphosa admitted that the electricity challenges have stalled economic development in the country.
“We gather here at the time of crisis due to the energy crisis which devastated our economy, the recent pandemic and catastrophic flooding that destructed lives and homes.
“Load shedding means that our markets are unable to keep food produce fresh, and traffic lights are often off,” he said.
Ramaphosa said R1.5 trillion will be invested in our economy in the next 5 years through the Just Transition period to ensure electricity is addressed.
“We must allow no delay to implement measures that will allow us to get out of the crisis caused by lack of energy. We do all these mindful of the climate change mitigation measures. We'll continue with just the transition,” he added.
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The President said he is aware that some people were taking advantage of the disaster situation to enrich themselves. To guard against corrupt activities, the Auditor-General will be brought in to guard against any misuse of funds.
Besides the energy issue, Ramaphosa said his government is working hard to ensure they create employment. He said the country lost 2 million jobs during the pandemic and this increased poverty levels.
“To address the challenge of youth unemployment, the Employment Tax Incentive has been expanded to encourage businesses to hire more young people in large numbers. Last year I announced that we would be seeking to reduce red tape so that we can rid our country of the unnecessary bureaucracy that often holds us back.”
“The red tape reduction team in the Presidency under Sipho Nkosi has been working with various departments to make it easier to do business,” Ramaphosa said.