WC Government calls on President for SONA to respond to country in crisis
Joint media release: Western Cape government calls on President for SONA to respond to country in crisis
Premier Alan Winde speaking for the people of the Western Cape province and South Africa urges President Cyril Ramaphosa to announce bold and decisive measures to effectively tackle the country’s destructive energy crisis.
“President Ramaphosa has to use the State of the Nation Address to give South Africans a decisive plan of action to end loadshedding. This is the most significant State of the Nation Address in years. I, the province, and the country will be looking to the President for concrete answers and solutions to a country in crisis,” remarked Premier Winde.
The economic cost of the power catastrophe continues to mount.
The South African Reserve Bank has confirmed the economic devastation being caused by the crisis. Unabated loadshedding is costing the national economy between R204 million and R899 million a day.
The Premier added, “The economic cost of loadshedding is being exacerbated by a glaring lack of urgency from national government, which seems to be paralysed in implementing urgent, decisive measures to stabilise the power system.”
Premier Winde strongly urges the President to announce the following steps in his SONA:
- The exemption granted by National Treasury to the City of Cape Town to buy back electricity from households and businesses must immediately be extended to all municipalities;
- National Treasury must relax procurement regulations at all levels of government which will allow easier sourcing of energy-related products or services with rigorous oversight;
- Explicit detail on improving and protecting the grid distribution network so that energy can be easily fed into the system by power producers to desperate households and businesses;
- A commitment from the President that provinces that take the steps to reduce their electricity usage will be ring-fenced with an equivalent level of loadshedding. This can be achieved through detailed and practical steps on the national Demand-Side Management initiative; and
- Clarity on how government will support struggling entrepreneurs and small and medium businesses that are the bedrock of our economy and help them turn to alternative power sources such as solar.
“It is one thing to announce measures, but what we desperately need is for the President to tell the country if any interventions have in fact been implemented, and if so, he must be upfront with our citizens on progress,” said Premier Winde.
Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger said that in addition to a definitive response to the devastating energy crisis, the President needs to be bold in enabling private sector-led economic growth. The Minister said, “We face significant national challenges which impact us all, but there are clear steps that can be taken which will go a long way to unlock economic growth and job creation. We need to drastically increase investment in infrastructure, especially in logistics infrastructure. To do this, much higher levels of private sector participation will be required, which is why we are calling for the Port of Cape Town to be made an Operation Vulindlela priority, so that it can also benefit from anticipated private sector participation at our country’s ports.”
The Minister concluded, “As the Minister responsible for Finance in the Western Cape, I also want to hear a clear indication that this government will get its priorities right. We don’t need R1 billion Football Club sponsorship deals, but a focus on education, healthcare, safety, the delivery of basic services, and good, clean and accountable government. There can be no greater demonstration of what a government stands for than how it spends its money. That signal must be made crystal clear from the get-go tomorrow evening.”
The Western Cape Government (WCG) is the only provincial government to have taken meaningful steps to ameliorate the impact of rolling power cuts on critical services. “In January the WCG authorised the emergency release of almost R89 million for the procurement of backup generators to ensure municipal services such as water supply, wastewater treatment, and sewerage infrastructure that are hardest hit by ongoing loadshedding are safeguarded as far as possible,” said Premier Winde.
The collapse of the country’s energy production capabilities infringes on the rights of our citizens as well as the duties of provincial and local governments to carry out their constitutional mandates and obligations to the country’s residents.
The Western Cape urges President Cyril Ramaphosa to be bold and decisive and effectively tackle the country’s urgent needs tomorrow in his SONA.