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AZAPO Voice Volume 2 Issue Number 7

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ESKOM COBRA EFFECT

We can’t say we did not see it coming. When President Ramaphosa appointed a team tasked with a turnaround plan for ESKOM with an expectation of interim recommendations within a month, the writing was on the wall. He then announced through his State of the Nation address that ESKOM would be unbundled into three independent companies under the custodianship of the ESKOM Holdings Company. This effectively allows for the existing divisions to operate as independent entities that should hopefully survive on the strength of their profit and loss statements and balance sheets. Further, it is hoped that should open up sources of funding for their operations and enable private equity involvement where desirable.

AZAPO wonders what mandate will be given to these entities once established?

It is a fact that ESKOM, heavily debt-burdened to the magnitude of R420 billion, can’t keep the lights on. The entity is subjecting the country to darkness through rolling load shedding. We are told of the need to maintain the ageing infrastructure that is forced to operate beyond its current performance capability. We are told of design errors of new generation plants and technical incapacity within ESKOM. We are told of the ESKOM rescue plans involving the so-called independent technical specialists in the form of ENEL, an Italian company that has invested in and operating about 520MW of renewable energy generation in the country. Only last August, they have signed for an additional 700MW of renewable energy generation. These are the foreign forces that are supposed to rescue ESKOM from the effects of the maintenance-intensive ageing generation infrastructure. Objectivity? Be the judge!

But where is this coming from? You may ask. The significance of the SONA announcement and rescue plans should be seen in the context of the ANC-led Government’s panic to implement the policy proposals coming from the 1998 Energy White Paper that sought to open and liberalise the energy market. That liberalisation would introduce competition and regulated cost reflective pricing, allowing for private players to invest in the country’s energy market. This meant that ESKOM would split up into the three independent entities, enabling the consolidation of the electricity distributors and independent private generation investors to connect to the national grid and sell energy on a competitive basis.

But the electricity prices were cheaper at the time and ESKOM had mothballed some of the power stations due to excess energy capacity. ESKOM had projected that the country would need additional generation capacity by around 2006 and therefore encouraged government to invest. The State, informed by the 1998 policy decision, opted not to invest and rather to encourage the introduction of new entrants into the energy sector. This was not to be.

Over the last decade or so, we have seen late forced investment decisions to increase energy generation capacity; the introduction of clean or alternative energy through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPP); energy efficiency programs and the increasing prosumer community; as well as energy intensive consumer flighters.

These were forced by the effects of energy capacity shortages due to the ageing ESKOM generation infrastructure resulting in reduced energy availability as well as the increasing energy costs.

The resultant was the reduced energy purchases, increasing requirement for ESKOM infrastructure maintenance and refurbishment and a ballooning capital budget requirement which made it difficult for ESKOM to fulfil its mandate of providing electricity in an efficient and sustainable manner while anchoring as an agent for economic development, black empowerment and improvement of quality of life in a developmental State. This weakened the ESKOM balance sheet to a point where the entity could be described as technically insolvent. All this happened at the back of a depressed energy sector where the rest of municipal distributors had a significant ESKOM debt of about R30 billion while its own an electrical infrastructure refurbishment backlog stood at almost R64 billion.

AZAPO is not convinced that the State has a solution to the ESKOM problem. The solution to the ESKOM situation must encompass the entire energy sector with the desire of ensuring a stable energy production, transmission and distribution for the benefit of the socio-economic development of the State. That can only be achieved if the energy sector is under the strategic control and guidance of a State that is independent of private sector manipulation.


WE REJECT THE RDP SHACK INSULT

Black people are human beings like all other human beings.  We have a culture, pride and history.  The fact that colonialism and white racism treated Black people like slaves and worse than the slave masters’ animals, does not mean we have no dignity and self-pride as a people.

As part of the system to destroy our humanity, colonialism concluded that we deserved to live in overcrowded townships and shacks with almost zero amenities.  We rejected apartheid matchbox houses because we made it clear that we were human beings who deserved to live in human settlements.

With the introduction of democracy in 1994, which our people fought hard for, Black people were justified to think that the matchbox houses they rejected would be history.  It was not to be.  The ruling party kicked them in the teeth by imposing something worse than the apartheid matchbox.  In rejection of the entire political programme of the ruling party, our people called those outrageous containers “RDP houses”, after the ruling party’s Reconstruction and Development Programme.

Sometimes, our people snubbed these structures by referring to them as “vez’iinyawo” (exposing the feet).  What is being communicated here is that the structures are insultingly small that you cannot close the door when you are sleeping in order to open space for your feet to stick out.  It is a challenge to stand in those structures for fear of colliding with the electric lamps and other hazardous stuff.

In areas like Alexandra, your first step through the door lands on the road where cars are flying past in high speed!  That tells you that there is no yard where the children could play in the absence of parks.  That also means a Black family has no yard to host its customary rituals.  It does also mean that our people do not enjoy their fundamental rights to housing, privacy and dignity.

This year the ruling party clinches the longest and uninterrupted Quarter of a Century in power.  Yet they are not ashamed by the fact that a majority of our people still live in squalor conditions in the villages, townships and shacks.  For all the 25 years in power, the voters gave the ruling party the necessary power (sometimes two thirds majority) and the State resources to build decent living houses for the Black people.  That power and resources have never been used to rebuild the humanity and dignity of Black people.

There seems to be no intention from the ruling party to drag our people out of misery and mud they inherited from the white settler-minority regime.  AZAPO believes that the promotion of squalor within the Black communities seems to have something to do with a deliberate strategy by the ruling party to maintain a vulnerable and desperate voting base that will forever be depended on the mercy of the State through social grants and food parcels.

As if they did not know, in a recent door-to-door programme the leaders of the ruling party pretended to be shocked that Black people were living in inhuman squalor.  In the past years, a Minister even rented a family out because he claimed he wanted to have a first-hand experience of living in a shack.  Is there a Black leader who could claim never to have experienced township and shack life?  No wonder that we have politicians who think Black people deserve to live in RDP structures.

South Africa currently faces a minimum housing backlog of about 2.1-million houses and many of the RDP structures that have been built are already in need of repair work to rectify their many faults.  The housing backlog means, at a minimum, about 12-million people (i.e. over 20% of the population) are currently without decent housing.

AZAPO is of the view that a State Housing Company should be formed to provide medium and low-cost housing in the country for both purchase and renting.  This will ensure that the highest standards are maintained in the building of houses.  Shacks and other forms of sub-standard housing would be a thing of the past according to AZAPO’s Political Programme.  We will encourage the formation of housing co-operatives which will, in conjunction with a State Housing Company, build decent houses for rent by people living in the townships, towns and cities.  People will be able to change from renting to buying once they can afford it or acquire automatic ownership after renting for a stipulated period.  AZAPO will ensure that those who are unable to fend for themselves are built houses provided for by a social development fund.


BLACK PEOPLE STAND UP AND REJECT THE STATE LOOTERS ON MAY 8

According to a Johannesburg daily newspaper, the Peter Mokaba region of the ANC in Limpopo has resolved that the decision taken by the party’s National Executive Committee on the VBS looters should be nullified.

The ANC region wants the ANC Limpopo provincial treasurer Danny Msiza and ANC provincial deputy chairperson Florence Radzilani to be reinstated into their positions. Both had been asked to step aside after they were implicated in the looting of the VBS.

But now the ANC region wants them to be reinstated into their positions. And the reason for this? “Our call is clear. As much as those fingered for corruption in the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture are not set aside then Msiza and Radzilani stay,” a regional ANC leader told the newspaper.

On the face of it, the region is wrong to call for the reinstatement of leaders who are implicated in corruption. So, if they know that what their comrades have done is wrong, why are they calling for their reinstatement? The ANC regional leaders have observed that several NEC members of the ruling party – including Nomvula Mokonyane and party chairperson Gwede Mantashe – have been fingered as beneficiaries of the Bosasa cesspit of corruption but no action has been taken against them.

The apparent inconsistency has given the regional leaders courage to say to national leaders: “Hands off our provincial leaders.”

One would have thought that with election looming, the ruling party would be trying its outmost to project an image of a party committed to fighting corruption. But no. In fact, the Peter Mokaba region of the ANC is convinced that Msiza and Radzilani would be pivotal in the election campaign. Really?

The ruling party should not be blamed for this level of arrogance and the belief of invincibility. The ANC is only taking advantage of the blank cheque that it gets from voters. It is benefiting from the blind loyalty of the voters who treat their engagement with political parties as marriages officiated by the Roman Catholic Church, where divorce is not permissible.

The VBS matter has developed into a major tragedy with the murdering of at least three people who were vocal in calling for the arrest of the VBS looters. Sadly, no arrest of the looters has been made but those who are calling for some action against the looters have been placed on a hit list. And again, no arrests have been made in connection with the murders.

Ultimately, the power rests with the voters. For as long as there is no relationship between the performance of the ruling elite and the voting pattern, politicians will continue to treat voters with disdain. All over the country, our people are unhappy with the levels of corruption, theft of state money, mismanagement, load shedding, lack of basic services such as water and rising unemployment. But despite their unhappiness, the ruling party has no fear of losing the election in May. In fact, one of the senior ANC leaders was bragging in parliament this week that come May 8, the ANC would be returned to power.

It is time that the hypnotised majority wakes up and use their vote to express their rejection of corruption and poor governance of the ruling party. Instead of burning tyres and blocking roads with logs, our people should vote out thieves and corrupt leaders.

The test of democracy lies in the insecurity of tenure of the incumbents.


NON-WHITE FAÇADE IN DEFENCE OF WHITE PRIVILEGES

Ordinarily, we would not dedicate space and time to analyse what the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus) does or who the party fields as its candidates in the forthcoming elections. After all, the party was formed by General Constand Viljoen to protect the gains that the Afrikaner community had acquired during apartheid and colonial rule.

The FF Plus was formed in March 1994 as a referendum of Afrikaners to test if they want a separate state for Afrikaners only. Unlike the other white liberal parties, the FF Plus never concealed their racist approach of exclusively wanting to preserve white supremacy and white privileges.

News flash! This party formed to advance the exclusive interests of the Afrikaners has seen the light. Or have they? The FF Plus has announced that Peter Marais, a controversial non-white Cape Town politician, would be the party premier candidate in the Western Cape. Interesting!

The ancestors of our Movement, chief among them Steve Bantu Biko, had the clarity of thought and declared that “the fact that we are not all white does not mean that we are all Blacks.” Biko went further to state that being Black was not a matter of skin pigmentation but a reflection of mental attitude. In this context, there were people who were non-whites such as Patrick Mphephu, Daliwonga Matanzima and Lucas Mangope. They were not whites but they were not part of the Black people who were engaged in the struggle to liberate themselves. In America, these non-whites were referred to as Uncle-Toms. Malcolm X called them houses-niggers, adding that they loved their masters and wanted the retention of the status-quo.

For the apartheid system to work, it needed to convert some of the non-whites to become its agents and active defenders. Sadly 25 years after the dawn of democracy, a section of the population that champions white supremacy still finds it possible to develop a scheme to hoodwink the non-white Peter Marais to become an active defender of a system designed to oppress Black people. And by Black people we mean Africans, so-called Coloureds and Indians.

The reason the FF Plus has to tamper with its lily white racial outlook is that they want to use Marais to attract the so-called Coloured vote in the Western Cape. For a right-wing white party, to use a non-white for its campaign might seem extreme, but the FF Plus is not the first party to use non-whites to tamper with its racial outlook.  The Democratic Alliance has employed this tactic with greater success. However, this multi-racial façade has been exposed after the non-white DA leader misunderstood the brief of guarding white privileges and started talking about policies designed to address the legacy of apartheid. The knives are now out for him because the white people only want non-whites who toe the line and remain defenders of white privileges.

Our hope is that Black people in the Western Cape will be able to see through the machinations of these whites who believe that they can use Black people as political pawns.


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