A showdown is looming between President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Western Cape provincial government after the South African leader snubbed opposition calls to declare a national state of disaster to respond to rolling power cuts that have worsened over the past year.The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA)-run Western Cape government had given Ramaphosa 10 days until January 27 to share his plans – including timeframes – for restoring full electricity supply to the Western Cape, failing which an intergovernmental dispute could be lodged.
In a letter written on January 17, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde wanted Ramaphosa to come clean about the extent of the country’s electricity crisis or face a possible inter-governmental dispute.
His main worry was that the rolling power cuts being experienced by South Africa were affecting the agricultural sector, with over 180,000 hectares of crops valued at more than R60 billion (about US$3.5 billion) under threat due to load shedding.
Winde expressed concern on Monday that Ramaphosa had ignored his letter requesting for a national state of disaster.
“I will now request a meeting with the President,” he said.
He said his provincial government last week convened a meeting of the Western Cape Energy Council which resolved to come up with several interventions to reduce the impact of loadshedding on the province.
“The council is looking at all options to make the Western Cape more energy resilient and to, over time, for us to become independent of Eskom.”
The DA has since last week staged protests in Johannesburg, Durban and other parts of South Africa to demand an end to the power cuts.
The second opposition Economic Freedom Fighters also issued an ultimatum at the weekend for Ramaphosa to address the power crisis and other problems facing South Africa or risk a nationwide shutdown in March.