Revolutionary Speaking – President’s Weekly Column – Volume 1 Issue 19

Vol 1: Issue 19
10 February 2023
Yet another SONA, has come and gone. President Ramaphosa was at pains begging the nation to “see hope where there is despair”. The same gentleman who raised his unconvincing hand and said to the nation “thuma mina” (send me) to turn the country around is now begging with tears rolling down his cheeks to “see hope where there is hopelessness”.
At least, he acknowledges that South Africa is in a “National State of Hopelessness”.
In the midst of loadshedding, poverty and unending miseries, the government spent millions of rands of the taxpayers’ money to create a platform for the politicians to show off their designer clothes to the poor people. What they didn’t realise was that nobody saw them in this darkness.
SONA was yet another outing and banquet, which functions as a palliative to the citizens. AZAPO has long called for these promise-dishing sessions to be conducted in a similar manner to when President Ramaphosa addressed his Covid-19 “family meetings” through live television and radio.
Ironically, several millions missed out on seeing the function because loadshedding prevented them from doing so. Yet the President was busy persuading the citizens to believe that his July 2022 “5-point plan” has resolved the loadshedding crisis. You knew that nothing had been achieved when he preambled the chest-beating exercise by admitting:
“We cannot undo the mistakes that were made in the past, the capacity that was not built, the damage that was done to our power plants due to a lack of maintenance, or the effects of state capture on our institutions.”
Once he thought that hypnotising statement had achieved its purpose, he added:
“What we can do is to fix the problem today, to keep the lights on tomorrow and for generations to come.”
On the day on which he was promising “to fix the problem” of loadshedding and turn the lights on, millions of his people were not viewing and listening due to loadshedding. Yet he still reminded the nation in front of his excitable and cheering supporters that were jumping up and down that:
“In July last year, I announced a clear action plan to address the energy crisis. This was to address the electricity shortfall of 4,000 to 6,000 MW.” He went on to list the key deliverables of his “clear action plan”:
·        First, fix Eskom’s coal-fired power stations and improve the availability of existing supply.
·        Second, enable and accelerate private investment in generation capacity.
·        Three, accelerate procurement of new capacity from renewables, gas and battery storage.
·        Four, unleash businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar.
·        Five, fundamentally transform the electricity sector to achieve long-term energy security.
A lot is hidden in the second bullet, which talks about enabling and acceleration of private investment in capacity generation. It is in the name of this bullet that Eskom is deliberately disabled and run to the ground to “enable and accelerate” privatisation. In the meantime, poor quality coal is sold to Eskom at exorbitant prices. The ruling political elites also milk the State Eskom coffers dry through overpriced diesel. Even though deliberately rendered sick, Eskom continues to be the milking cow of corrupt and connected politicians.
Back to SONA. With a smile on his face, and satisfied that he was really capturing his audience, he finished off the gullible section of his audience by indoctrinating them that “experts agree that this plan is the most realistic route to end load shedding”. He paused for effect before he told them that “during the last six months, we have made important progress in implementing the plan”.
That even drew more loud and chaotic applause from the gullible section of the audience. The President almost sent them crying with delight when he announced that he was to appoint a “Minister of Electricity” to make loadshedding a thing of the past in South Africa. Yet he had just told them that “important progress” was made in “implementing the plan”.
The gullible audience didn’t have the presence of mind and soul to pause and reflect. Isn’t Eskom a baby of the government’s Department of Energy and Department of Public Enterprises. They are respectively led by Ministers Gwede Mantashe and Pravin Gordhan, who now appear to be at each other’s throats. Why is there a need to appoint a Minister of Electricity as the foster parent of Eskom on top of the two fully resourced government departments? Is Ramaphosa whispering to the nation that the two departments, and by extension his Cabinet, have failed to deal with the energy crisis?
If our memory serves us well, we will recall that Ramaphosa was given a task in his capacity as the country’s Deputy President to solve the energy crisis. As President Zuma’s “Minister of Electricity”, in 2014 he was appointed to be the commander of the “Eskom War Room”. Of interest was that the “War Room” was made up of the Departments of Energy, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Public Enterprises, National Treasury, Economic Development, Water and Sanitation. Those were 6 fully resourced government Departments! Added to that list was Eskom and technical officials.
The “roadmap to end loadshedding” was “to look into Eskom’s short and long-term energy challenges” as was contained in some “5-point plan” with interventions like:
·        “harnessing the cogeneration opportunity through the extension of existing contracts with the private sector;
·        accelerating the programme for substitution of diesel with gas to fire up the diesel power plants;
·        launching a coal independent power producer programme; and
·        managing demand through specific interventions within residential dwellings, public and commercial buildings and municipalities through retrofitting energy efficient technologies.”
If you don’t believe that Ramaphosa and the ruling party have lost their governing compass, you need to be reminded that the National Energy Crisis Committee met with government stakeholders in January this year. They emerged with yet another “5-point plan” to deal with loadshedding and the energy crisis. A critical look at them will show that they are not different from all the other “action plans” that were hardly actioned.
Loadshedding, a creation of the ANC-led government, is ruthlessly destroying the South African economy which is chronically underperforming.  In its latest report, Stats SA tells the nation that company liquidations went up to 30.3 percent in December 2022 from December 2021.  That means the economy suffered 159 liquidated companies.  We are told that most of the liquidations were voluntary, while seven were either compulsory or ordered closures.  For the 2022 full year, 1,907 businesses and companies were liquidated as a result of the negative impact of the loadshedding.  Year 2021 recorded more liquidations at 1,932. 
It goes without saying that these closures push the unemployment rate higher, resulting in the worsening of poverty and inequality in South Africa.  The promise of “a better life for all” continues to be a mirage on the road of development.  The cynicism of the South African politics is such that the ruling party doesn’t just misgoverns and ruin the lives of the citizens, they go further and take the people for a ride by organising marches where they would hand petitions to themselves.  In this way, the people are not only starved by the rulers, but the rulers deprive the people the initiative to fight against the rulers.  This is a status quo-perpetuating stratagem where the ruler becomes the cause of the illness and the one who offers the palliative drugs with no intention to cure.
Of major concern is that Ramaphosa announced that the electricity crisis has led to the declaration of a National State of Disaster. This would be laughable if it wasn’t tragic. While we think it is governance that is in a State of National Disaster, we all know what happens when there has been an opportunity to mobilise massive financial resources to apparently attend to a national crisis. Money ends up in the private pockets of the ruling political elites. Who has forgotten about the Covid-19 PPE fund? While the citizens were dying in numbers, we were told about the “strategy” to dig 1.5 million graves to be ready for us the living. Many of the political elites who corruptly embezzled the Covid-19 money are yet to be arrested and answer for their crimes of looting the State resources. The only promise the nation is given that the Disaster fund won’t be looted is that “there will be processes” to regulate the use of the fund. That’s exactly the same promise the nation was given during the Covid-19 pandemic period.
Granted this background, let the people refuse to “see hope where there is despair”. Let there be light.