President Jacob Zuma used the ANC’s January 8 birthday rally to absolve his government from responsibility of the energy crises gripping the country, according to reports from the ANC shindig in Cape Town.
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.
Once upon a time, under National Party rule, South Africa had the cheapest power in the world, with excess production exported or sold at risible rates to aluminium smelters. Yet yesterday the country had to contend with a new round of “load shedding” as the state utility Eskom ran out of electricity again. 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.
Eskom has been fanatical about affirmative action and has laid off scores of white engineers, leaving the company without engineering and financial expertise but with high-salaried affirmative-action freeloaders.
“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,” said Zuma.
The Mail & Guardian reported on Friday that Eskom would run out of money by the end of January.
However, Zuma refuses to shoulder any blame for the electricity mess in South Africa.
“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.
“We continue to evaluate options to maximise our energy mix including coal, gas, nuclear, solar and renewables,” he added.
A nuclear plan has also been announced by Zuma.
“The ANC is therefore putting energy as one of our apex priorities,” he said.
Zuma’s speech focussed on the Freedom Charter, a Marxist document drawn up by Rusty Bernstein and others in 1955 and has since served as a central party manifesto to both the Communist Party and the ANC. He warned against monopoly capital:
“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 were warmly received by the Communist Party and its main trade union, Cosatu.
Cosatu President Sdumo Dlamini said he was “satisfied that the president raised the debate of racial transformation in the financial sector”.
“But it will remain a speech if there is no implementation,” he added.
Zuma wants banking to become more affordable too.
“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.
The ANC is also preparing to implement a Zimbabwe-style “land reform” in South Africa, pushing white farmers off the land.
“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.”