JOHANNESBURG – The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said that it was worried that the state of disaster on the electricity crisis could be used to push through an emergency contract with Karpowership.
Outa raised these concerns in the urgent review application it filed in the High Court in Pretoria on Thursday.
The organisation wants the decisions that led to the declaration of a state of disaster to be set aside.
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Outa and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) are currently locked in a legal battle over licences granted to the Turkish Karpowership, which wants to use a power ship to add electricity to the grid.
The cost of the deal is a central feature of the case.
The organisation’s chief legal officer, Stefanie Fick, said that a state of disaster granted extraordinary powers to the authorities to make far-reaching decisions without parliamentary oversight.
This was especially concerning given what happened during the COVID-19 state of disaster, said Fick.
“It could be used to sign unaffordable emergency contracts, like with Karpowership.”
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Fick said that the decision to declare a state of disaster was irrational, arbitrary, and unlawful.
“There is sufficient existing laws to allow the government to address the crisis. There is also the Energy Action Plan announced by the president last year which is endorsed by experts and overseen by the National Energy Crisis Committee.”
Fick said that the Energy Action Plan was the best way out of the electricity crisis.