Eskom Challenges Court Order on Exempting Key Institutions from Load Shedding


Background:

  • Legal Tussle: Eskom is seeking to appeal a pivotal court judgment that mandates uninterrupted power supply to vital public institutions in healthcare, education, and safety sectors.
  • Historic Ruling: In late 2022, Judge Norman Davis ruled that the government’s failure to shield Eskom from criminal activities and state capture, leading to the energy crisis, breached the Bill of Rights.

The Court’s Directive:

  • Mandatory Action: The court ordered Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa to ensure, by January 31, 2024, an adequate electricity supply to public health establishments, schools, and police stations, thus averting load shedding impacts.

Eskom’s Appeal:

  • Appeal to Supreme Court: Eskom is petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA), arguing that the high court exceeded its jurisdiction and the scope of the pleadings.
  • Technical Feasibility: Eskom contends that exempting these key sectors from load shedding is technically unfeasible due to the network’s embedded nature, making implementation challenging.

Legal and Political Responses:

  • ActionSA’s Critique: ActionSA, a party in the legal battle, criticizes the decision to appeal, accusing the government and Eskom of misusing taxpayer money instead of addressing the court’s concerns.
  • Presidential Spokesperson’s Stance: Vincent Magwenya, speaking for President Cyril Ramaphosa, notes that appealing court judgments is a standard practice in jurisprudence.

Implications:

  • Precedent Concerns: Eskom stresses that the court’s order sets a significant precedent regarding state duties in electricity provision amid load shedding and raises concerns about the separation of powers.
  • Ongoing Debate: The appeal sparks a debate on the balance between judicial rulings and practical implementation challenges in the energy sector.
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