Like the beginning of every zombie film, South Africa is considering calling for a national state of disaster. The only difference? Ours isn’t for anything nearly as cool as zombies. Our predicament involves Eskom, which is somehow far more depressing. You know, what with the constant bouts of load shedding that are crumbling the economy?
Not so natural
Whether the country meets the criteria needed to officially declare a state of disaster is still being explored said President Cyril Ramaphosa at the African National Congress strategy meeting on Monday. The last time South Africa fit the bill was just over three years ago, at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Work is already underway within government to establish whether the legal requirements of a national state of disaster are met and what specific actions we would be empowered to undertake,” said Ramaphosa. “A national state of disaster will enable us to have the instruments necessary to fully implement the challenges that our nation faces.”
The constant load shedding – which has plagued the country for 94 consecutive days (this time) – is causing the economy to collapse. The central bank of South Africa previously predicted. 1.1% growth for the economy, though that has now been cut down to 0.3% in response to the blackouts.
It’s hard to know what a state of disaster would look like this time around. When it was last implemented, it allowed the government to enforce the lockdown and curfew and enabled the procurement of medicines needed. That’s… not needed here. In fact, a curfew would probably put more strain on Eskom’s currently-failing grid.
It’s not immediately clear how declaring a state of disaster will help alleviate load shedding at all. The actions to be taken are something we’ll find out should the country meet the necessary criteria for implementation.