Johannesburg – South African National Civic Organisation (SANCO) on Tuesday described as “progressive” the Gauteng North High Court ruling exempting schools, police stations, and healthcare facilities from load-shedding.
Last week on Friday, the Pretoria High Court issued an order exempting these entities from load shedding. The government was ordered to provide alternate energy supplies such as generators, where exemption wasn’t possible.
Commenting on the ruling, SANCO National Spokesperson Thamsanqa Kenke said: “We think this is a progressive judgment in defending the vulnerable and the destitute against the mighty government in its abuse of the people”.
Kenke added: “SANCO has also noted with serious concern the intention to urgently lodge an appeal against the judgment of the Gauteng North High Court by the Minister of Public Enterprise, Pravin Gordhan.
“We view these intentions by the minister as reactionary and against social progress.”
Kenke said the sectors exempted were critical as evidenced by the Labour Relations Act, which prohibits essential services workers from engaging in strike action.
“This includes among others the police and healthcare workers,” Kenke said.
“This limitation on the right to strike signifies the importance of holding on to the sanctity of human life.
“Our understanding is that the North Gauteng Court had this provision of the constitution in mind as it came to its determination.
“It becomes prudent therefore for the government of the people to abide by such decisions of the court.”
Kenke said SANCO rejects the intentions of the Minister of Public Enterprise to lodge an urgent appeal against the court judgment “that compels him to protect lives and act for social progress and not against it”.
Kenke added: “What the minister intends to do is to actually buy time and drag this matter as long as possible to avoid spending money in order to abide by the decision of the court.
“We would like to remind him that it is not his money that will be spent but public resources and that he therefore has no right to deprive the people that which belongs to them.”
Kenke said if the minister continues with this “stubborn attitude”, SANCO will be left with no choice but to join the legal battle of the 19 interest groups that have brought this application.
“Equally, SANCO will mobilise society in calling for the removal from office of the minister of Public Enterprise,” said Kenke.
“The abuse our people have suffered under his watch with this man-made electricity crisis is no longer bearable.”
Struggling Eskom is presently implementing Stage 6 load-shedding.