Mbalula: 'We are now well-educated about ensuring there is no looting as a result of a state of disaster'

13 February 2023 - 09:00
By Unathi Nkanjeni
ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
Image: Supplied ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. File photo.

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has dismissed speculation that the state of disaster due to the country's electricity crisis will result in looting of funds, saying the party is “now well-educated”. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa, during his state of the nation address last week, declared a national state of disaster to respond to the electricity crisis with immediate effect.

He said the state of disaster will enable the government to provide practical measures it needs to take to support businesses in the food production, storage and retail supply chain, including the rollout of generators, solar panels and uninterrupted power supply.

“Where technically possible, it will enable us to exempt critical infrastructure such as hospitals and water treatment plants from load-shedding.

“And it will enable us to accelerate energy projects and limit regulatory requirements while maintaining rigorous environmental protections, procurement principles and technical standards,” he said.

Speaking to the media, Mbalula said the ANC is “now well-educated” about ensuring there is no looting of funds as happened when the government used disaster management legislation to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We are now well-educated about ensuring that there is no looting as a result of a state of disaster. Equally, we must emphasise that in the declaration of state of disaster during Covid-19, looting was dealt with, fusion centres were established, and crooks were arrested,” he said. 

Mbalula said “big cases” resulting from the looting of Covid-19 funds were before the courts and Special Investigating Unit (SIU). 

“All the time when people speak about state of disaster used for looting, all of the interventions and reversal of the looting are not mentioned. The cases are there. 

“All we are saying is copy the model that we have implemented to reverse the looting, quicker and faster than state capture and implement it.”

He said crooks would not take chances as the ANC would intervene where necessary. 

“All hands on deck. Crooks take chances any time and anywhere with government resources. The question is ‘are you able and agile to deal with that?’. We have been doing that, we have been agile. The president gave a big report on this matter and our problem in government is that we don’t communicate.”

The DA last week announced it is going to court to challenge the declaration of a state of disaster over South Africa’s energy crisis to avert a potential “looting frenzy”, even though the party previously said it wanted a state of disaster declared.

“We have already briefed our lawyers to challenge the announcement in court,” said DA leader John Steenhuisen. 

“South Africa has been down this road before. During the Covid-19 disaster, we saw the fatal flaws in the national state of disaster legislation which allows the ANC unfettered power to loot without any parliamentary oversight.

“The DA is already in court to declare the Disaster Management Act unconstitutional and we will do the same to prevent the ANC looting frenzy that will follow Ramaphosa’s [announcement].”

Steenhuisen decried the “nonsensical and economically destructive regulations” imposed during the pandemic, coupled with the abuse of procurement processes.

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