WATCH | Only EFF can end load-shedding, says Mkhwebane in maiden speech

24 October 2023 - 19:34
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Former public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane went on the offensive against the ANC during her maiden speech as an EFF MP on Tuesday.

Just weeks after the ANC, along with the DA, impeached her as the public protector, Mkhwebane says the governing party has no capacity to end load-shedding.

In fact, she says, it is only her newfound political home, the EFF, that can do that.

Mkhwebane was delivering her maiden speech in the National Assembly session in which electricity minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa was updating MPs on the progress made to overcome the energy crisis.

She said that the ANC and its government has been promising to end load-shedding for long time, but the promises were empty.

“On more than one occasion in the past five years the ANC president C has assured the people of South Africa that load-shedding would be a thing of the past but things just got worse,” Mkhwebane said.

“At the beginning of this year the secretary-general of the ruling party said load-shedding would end before December 2023 — but there are no scientific or engineering demonstrations, evidence or science that load-shedding will end under this government.”

The energy crisis will continue as long as the ANC is in power, said Mkhwebane, who until recently was apolitical as the head of a Chapter Nine institution.

“The EFF’s road map to electricity dependability articulated by the CIC Julius Malema and deputy president Floyd Shivambu are the only solutions that will end load-shedding in South Africa,” she said.

“It is illusionary for anyone to think that you can end it without securing baseload electricity generation and supply which in this instance is coal, nuclear, hydroelectricity and conversion of gas into electricity. At the centre of South Africa’s electricity crisis are the IPPs who are imposed by the imperialist West and forced on to Eskom without any rational and sensible basis.”

Mkhwebane said that any talk by the ANC of ending the energy crisis was nothing but electioneering ahead of the 2024 national polls.

Her assertion was echoed by FF Plus MP Wouter Wessels who said it was baffling that the government was all of a sudden getting a grip on the energy crisis so close to elections.

This, Wessels said, was also the case ahead of the 2009 elections where after extended bouts of load-shedding it came to a halt on the eve of elections.

“It is clear that the reduction in load-shedding is only temporary. And it is concerning because we saw this in 2008 as well where there was load-shedding and, just before elections, strides were made,” he said. “All of a sudden there is enough electricity. Is there, or are you just doing an election campaign? And after the 2024 election we are going to suffer more, because you did this in 2008 as well?”

In response, Ramokgopa said the hurried pace in getting additional power from Kusile, Independent Power Producers, neighbouring countries and others had nothing to do with elections.

It was instead the economy that his ministry, and the government in general, was concerned with.

Ramokgopa said that about 1,600MW of unserviced energy could result in the economy contracting by about 5% — and that caused a loss of up to R1bn a day. 

“What we are trying to do is to protect the South African economy and you know that the manifestation of that is also in the fiscal head space, so we are running out of the fiscal runway and that’s where the minister of finance has to do some degree of reprioritisation to ensure that we remain within the fiscal envelope.”

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa said he felt for Ramokgopa as he had been handed a poisoned chalice.

Between being a minister without a portfolio, not being directly in charge of Eskom, and not being able to reign over any policy matter, he was doomed to fail.

Ramokgopa was “stuck between a rock a hard place” with the two senior ministers he has to work hand in hand with — minister of public enterprise Pravin Gordhan and minister of energy and mineral resources Gwede Mantashe.

“These problem ministers will really stall any of your endeavours,” Hlengwa said.


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