The City of Cape Town’s attempt to force the national government to allow it to generate its own power hit the skids on Tuesday when the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria said the parties must use the inter-governmental dispute resolution mechanisms to resolve the issue.
The court did not rule on the merits of the matter. Mayor Dan Plato said: “We believe the constitutional obligation of municipalities to provide sustainable services supersedes Section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act, and that this provision cannot obstruct a municipality’s obligation to provide the basic service of electricity to residents.”
Plato accused the president, the government and the ANC for failing to create an energy secure country and placing South Africans at risk through Eskom’s “crumbling monopoly”.
“To this end, we are engaging National Treasury on a Cape Town Integrated Resource Plan and our intention to establish a City Independent Power Purchase office. Recently, the City transferred a R54-million property for the development of the Atlantis Special Economic Zone, a central development in our growth as a green-tech capital,” he said.
The City’s initial court application sought clarity on whether municipalities are lawfully entitled to procure energy from independent power producers (IPP) in terms of their own energy planning. The proceedings were heard virtually in May.
The City has been putting pressure on the national government for many years to reshape the energy regime in South Africa. The Electricity Regulation Act allows the minister of mineral resources and energy to prescribe the amount and type of new generation.
The City contends it is its constitutional mandate to provide power to its customers, allowing those customers to choose the type of power they receive.
In the judgment, Judge Leonie Windell found the City had failed to follow a formal inter-governmental dispute process before turning to the courts.
“The City’s argument that a dispute about constitutional validity does not constitute an inter-governmental dispute, is without merit,” Judge Windell said.