Zuma repeats electricity apartheid's problem

President Jacob Zuma says the fault for the energy crisis lies with apartheid. (David Harrison, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma says the fault for the energy crisis lies with apartheid. (David Harrison, M&G)

President Jacob Zuma used the ANC’s January 8 birthday rally to absolve his government from responsibility of the energy crises gripping the country. 

Zuma told over 50 000 of ANC supporters gathered at the Green Point Stadium on Saturday that the ANC government should not feel guilty for the lack of power in the country. 

“The energy problem is not our problem today. It is a problem of apartheid which we are resolving,” he said.

Zuma reaffirmed comments he made in the past that apartheid was responsible for the rolling blackouts affecting the country. 

“The reality is that we are dealing with the legacy of apartheid, which was skewed to deal with the minority and not the majority,” the president said. 

On Friday, Eskom implemented stage one of load shedding. The power utility said it was due to “high electricity demand and the unavailability” of some generating units. Stage one allows for up to 1 000MW of the national load to be shed, stage two for up to 2 000MW and stage three for up to 4 000MW.

Zuma would not accept the view of some commentators and the opposition that bad leadership was responsible for the dire energy situation. 

“When commentators comment on energy they forget this (that apartheid was responsible for the lack of energy). They want to put the blame on the democratic government.” 

National crisis
DA parliamentary leader Mmusi Maimane said last month that Eskom should declare the power shortages in the country a national crisis. He also accused Eskom of bad leadership and indecisiveness. The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that Eskom would run out of money by the end of January

The president opines that the ANC-led government was party of the solution and had nothing to do with the creation of the energy crises. 

“The ANC government is accelerating the pace to bring the Medupi and Kusile power stations onto the grid and we are licensing independent power producers,” he said.

Zuma said government was in the process of assessing projects that would would provide short-term relief to the energy crises. 

“We continue to evaluate options to maximise our energy mix including coal, gas, nuclear, solar and renewables,” he said. 

In December last year, Zuma announced that government was ready to kick start the procurement of the nuclear programme. 

“The ANC is therefore putting energy as one of our apex priorities,” Zuma continued. 

‘Monopoly capital’
While Zuma’s speech centred around the Freedom Charter, commemorating 60 years since its adoption, Zuma spoke of a deracialised economy. 

“We must break the stranglehold of monopoly capital on our economic development. It is imperative that the Competitions Commission continues to address monopolistic, collusive and anti-competitive behaviour and become even bolder in their preventative and punitive measures.”

Zuma’s statements on the economy drew the nod of approval from the ANC’s alliance partners, the SACP and Cosatu. 

Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini said he was satisfied that the president raised the debate of transformation in the financial sector. 

“But it will remain a speech if there is no implementation,” he said. 

Zuma advised ANC branches to work closely with alliance partners in their campaign to make banking more affordable. 

“Banking has become much more accessible to the majority of South Africans, but the excessive bank charges and fees mean that many people still cannot afford bank services,” he said. 

Zuma appeared firm on the land issue, he raised concern about the pace of the redistribution process. 

“We commit that the land will be returned to our people and the ANC calls on its government to act with the necessary speed to put the legislation in place, this year, to ensure that this happens.”

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