Winde gives president ultimatum
Western Cape premier Alan Winde has threatened to declare an intergovernmental dispute over load-shedding due to what he described as the national government’s "catastrophic" handling of the energy crisis.
Winde wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa this week, requesting detailed information by January 27 on the extent of the crisis, its impact and plans to tackle load-shedding. Failure to provide this information to the province and affected citizens was a breach of the constitution, he said.
Winde said the national government’s apparent inability, or refusal, to keep all spheres of government informed about the crisis was unconscionable.
"The energy crisis is clearly an economic disaster threatening to deteriorate into a humanitarian disaster and no-one will be spared its consequences.
"To deny executive authorities in the other spheres of government the ability to at least plan and prepare its citizenry for the impending fallout is unconscionable," he said.
The lack of information about the load-shedding crisis amounted to a breach of chapter 3 of the constitution, Winde added. His ultimatum includes a demand for a timetable for restoring capacity, and for short-medium- and long-term plans to resolve the crisis.
"As far as I am aware, there was no response to my predecessor’s request for this information in March 2019."
Winde highlighted the effect load-shedding is exerting on the regional economy and agriculture in particular.
"The Western Cape is estimated to have lost between R48.6bn and R61.2bn in real GDP since load-shedding commenced in late 2007. In 2022, real GDP lost to the Western Cape was estimated at R8.2bn. These figures are expected to grow significantly if the country is subjected to record-high load-shedding in 2023, which at this stage appears likely," he said.
A total of 181,233ha of permanent crops, with a replacement value estimated at R60bn, was under threat due to power-supply disruptions affecting agriculture, Winde said.
"The impact on the agricultural sector in the Western Cape is of major concern, taking into account … that product temperature is not allowed to move beyond specific tolerance levels until products are purchased by consumers [with discrepancies resulting in the rejection of whole consignments], and that irrigation systems cannot in the event of load-shedding at stage 4 and above, cope with the water demand needs of plants during summer months. The very resources of production [such as orchards and vineyards] might be damaged," he said.
Winde’s office added in a statement: "If the premier does not receive a response, the provincial government may consider pursuing an intergovernmental dispute as this crisis cannot continue unaddressed."
Western Cape premier Alan Winde says President Cyril Ramaphosa is in breach of the constitution for not giving citizens details on the extent of SA's energy crisis and what the government is doing about the catastrophe.. Picture: HETTY ZANTMAN