Our Burning Planet

'FOREIGN AGENTS' OP-ED

In service of honourable Minister Mantashe, we must expose the foreign-funded forces trying to destroy our future

In service of honourable Minister Mantashe, we must expose the foreign-funded forces trying to destroy our future
Minister Gwede Mantashe. (Photo: Gallo Images / Volksblad / Mlungisi Louw) | Shell logo. (Image: Wikimedia)

The people of South Africa are the real foreign agents. Like every foreign-funded agent before them, these so-called people of South Africa are demanding things like clean, affordable and reliable energy. Representing a clearly foreign agenda, they are asking that the government do its job and fix Eskom.

Comrades, our visionary leader Gwede Mantashe has issued a warning. There are foreign-funded forces among us, trying to ruin our great country. According to our great minister, there are “anti-development NGOs” that are “foreign-funded” and are trying to “block development in our country”. 

It is time once and for all that we exposed these foreign forces and kicked them out of our land into the abyss where they belong. And so, in service of the honourable minister, I bring you this piece, which ruthlessly exposes the foreign forces destroying our future. 

Before we get there though, let us introduce you to some comrades in Mantashe’s struggle against foreign forces. First, is the Struggle stalwart Shell. For years, our comrades at Royal Dutch Shell have been at the forefront of the struggle against Western colonisers. Just ask the people of the Niger Delta.

Decades of Shell’s oil and gas extraction have made the Niger Delta home to a devastating combination of poverty, violence and inequality, layered upon deadly, toxic and polluted air, soil and water. Now that’s what I call liberation. 

If you’re worried that the ANC’s financial investments in Shell represent a conflict of interest or corruption. Don’t worry. Our honourable leader Minister Mantashe assures us it was just a smart financial investment. It is a total coincidence that Mantashe and his Department of Mineral Resources and Energy are fighting tooth and nail to defend Shell.

Our noble minister couldn’t be more right, it is those ungrateful local communities and fisherfolk who are greedily protecting their homelands from deadly pollution, who are the real “colonisers of a special kind”. 

The true liberators against this tyranny are Royal Dutch Shell and their super diverse British partners Impact Oil & Gas. If I remember my South African history, it was the Dutch and the British who liberated us from colonialism, right? Here they are to do it again. 

Another true comrade in the struggle is the French multinational Total. Their valiant efforts to liberate the people of Mozambique from oppression have been a shining beacon of hope in the struggle against Western imperialism.

When Total went to Mozambique they promised prosperity and development, and boy have they delivered. Just look at the recent studies showing that oil and gas exploration in Mozambique has deepened poverty and inequality, not alleviated it. It has also sparked intense bloody conflict that is plunging Mozambique into turmoil — what security forces described as “total chaos”.

As the map below shows, across South Africa the ANC is carving up our land and oceans. You’d be mistaken if you thought the map resembles how Africa was carved up for colonial exploitation. This is a map of liberation delivered by the noblest of multinational oil and gas corporations! 

Petroleum exploration and production in South Africa. (Graphic courtesy of Petroleum Agency SA)

The biggest winners in the scramble for our resources are Shell, Total, and Impact Oil & Gas. Then there’s Silver Wave Energy, which is driven by the oppressive regime in Myanmar and will reap massive profits from exploiting our coastlines. Much of the coast will also be opened up for the human rights-loving Qatari government’s oil and gas corporations. 

Probably the biggest ally in our fight against foreign forces is China. The ANC has forged a strong partnership with the Chinese government to try to force through a coal-fired, polluting industrial zone in Limpopo. Heading up the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone, our government has joined forces with Hong Kong-based businessman Yat Hoi Ning, who was removed as chief executive of his previous company amid allegations of misconduct and fraud.

Ning is a fugitive from the law in Zimbabwe and has a London high court judgment against him. That won’t stop the Ramaphosa administration from working with him to build a polluting and expensive white elephant that will guzzle billions of litres of water in drought-stricken Limpopo, all the while destroying vitally important land and water resources. 

Another one of the true comrades helping the ANC in its fight against foreign forces is, of course, Russia. The ANC is grateful for the large amounts of money it receives from United Manganese of Kalahari, via a shady network of companies that leads back to sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg — a close friend of the Kremlin.

That of course has no influence on the ANC’s cosying up to Russia, or Gwede Mantashe’s campaign to buy oil and nuclear from Russia which would help it fund its war in Ukraine. I’m sure when our former deputy president was having his mysterious prolonged stay in Russia, it was simply because the Kremlin offers the best medical services.

Apart from long-term comrades like Russia, we know that centuries-old liberation struggles like the ANC’s require young blood to sustain their struggle. And so, let us introduce you to a relatively new comrade in the struggle against foreign forces, the Turkish company Karadeniz Energy Group. Our Turkish comrades have been liberating people across the world through their powerships programme. In their wake, they have left a trail of true success stories. 

  • In Lebanon, Karadeniz is accused of paying commissions to a company linked to politically connected businessmen. Lebanon’s financial public prosecutor impounded the two ships it operates in that country as surety for a potential $25-million fine.
  • In Pakistan, a Karadeniz subsidiary stands accused of paying politically connected middlemen more than $5-million to clinch a five-year contract worth $565-million. The deal was rescinded by the country’s Supreme Court in 2012, setting off an epic seven-year legal battle and an ongoing corruption investigation.

I’m sure we won’t see similar corruption happening here. It’s not like Mantashe’s former director-general had to quit in disgrace amidst powership corruption scandals or anything. Even the President’s own economic advisory council recognised Mantashe’s skills in rigging the tender process to favour Karpowership over cleaner, more affordable, more job-creating alternatives like renewable energy.

Unfortunately, those counter-revolutionaries at Eskom were unreasonably demanding that anti-corruption measures be put in place. We can’t allow Eskom to stand in the way of Karpowership’s attempts to liberate the South African people of more than R200-billion of their hard-earned money.

The real foreign forces destroying our future

Comrades, now that we have learnt about our allies in the fight against foreign forces, it is time we identified the true foreign forces ruining South Africa’s future. It may seem hard to believe, but the real insidious foreign forces hoodwinking the people of South Africa, are the people of South Africa. Yes, the people of South Africa are the real foreign agents. 

Like every foreign-funded agent before them, these so-called people of South Africa are demanding things like clean, affordable and reliable energy. Representing a clearly foreign agenda, they are asking that the government do its job and fix Eskom.

Those foreign forces are made up of devious entities like trade unions, mining-affected communities and nonprofit organisations. Perhaps worst of all, they are being led by young people pretending to be angry that their future has been sold off so that an elite few can profiteer off the collapse of our economy, our ecosystems and our country.

One of the most nefarious tools that these so-called people of South Africa have been using against our visionary leader Gwede Mantashe is something called evidence. For example, they use studies from actual economists which show that if the government hadn’t killed off our renewable energy industry, we could have avoided load shedding, brought energy costs down, and saved billions of rands.

They refuse to believe Mantashe’s vision that development must be “painful”, and involve destroying the very environment that people rely on to survive. Instead, they point out that South Africa is already one of the world’s most polluting countries, and in exchange, the pain we get is being one of the most unequal, jobless, and poverty-stricken societies in the world. 

These impimpis are spreading malicious information about how we can solve our energy crisis, reduce pollution and create jobs and economic opportunities through the green industrialisation of South Africa. They are clearly foreign agents intent on undermining South Africa’s future.

That’s why Mantashe is right to sound the alarm. Now is the time to change legislation to muzzle the voices of civil society and prevent them from getting in the way of the ANC’s continuous, and glorious, march towards progress. The last thing we need is democracy getting in the way of Mantashe and his comrades.

Now. Jokes aside. This is deadly serious. Activists and citizens across the country are being intimidated, silenced and killed for standing up for a better future.

Now, one of the most powerful ministers in the country, who holds immense sway over the ANC, is floating the idea of changing legislation to stifle civil society. We cannot stand for this slide into authoritarianism. The future of our country depends on us fighting back.

Now, let us issue a warning to Mantashe that if he tries to stifle democracy, we will fight back. Mantashe and his ilk have already brought this country into one of its darkest hours. We will not quietly stand by while they try to loot and destroy the rest of the country. It’s time to reclaim and defend people’s power. DM

Alex Lenferna is the general secretary of the Climate Justice Coalition and a postdoctoral research Fellow at the Nelson Mandela University Department of Development Studies. 

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  • jcdville stormers says:

    Oswald Cobblepot’s(Penguin in Batman) double,and just as devious

  • Robert Pegg says:

    Alex is my new hero. He doesn’t pull punches and hits the nail on the head. Keep up the good work. Where would we be if it wasn’t for people like him and the Daily Maverick !

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    I will say it again, and I will keep saying it until people start seeing the wood.

    There is only 1 way we can each help to improve our country.

    Vote DA.

    • dylan smith says:

      Thank you for the piece it is as usual depressingly true, may I ask you to publish a piece with some suggestions on how us the average Joe’s can do anything about it. And don’t say vote because almost everyone reading this article already votes. We need change how do we as society affect that change.

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        The first big change is that we all vote for 1 party, the DA rather than all these smaller parties (the ANC loves a new small party I promise you)

        The sad reality is that it is very difficult for someone uneducated and struggling to make ends meet to find the time or the energy to connect the dots between our government stealing and lying and their not getting a home, or job, or food. Or losing their job, home or food.

        And against this backdrop, the second major mental shift is we don’t just vote ourselves. We find any way we can to connect the dots and encourage others to do the same. For example colleagues or people you may employ, could go something like this:

        I’m afraid to say that government stealing means this business does not get enough electricity. If it continues, this business will fail, and if that happens we will all lose our jobs and income. Also it will be very hard to find other jobs because other businesses are in trouble just like this one for the same reason.

        But there is something you can do to help prevent this, which is to vote in a government that will provide a better future for us all. I understand you don’t trust them historically but the DA is truly a democratic party for everyone in South Africa and can help save our business and all of our jobs. So try to put colour politics aside, think about your future and vote DA. 2024 is literally a make or break election for our country so you have 1 chance – please use it!

        Align and enlighten.

  • Lawrence Sisitka says:

    Nice one Alex – a really good example of the kind of disciplined and focused anger that we need to call on to drag this beautiful country back from the abyss that Mantashe and his cronies are opening up. Your research is impeccable and as you say relies on actual evidence – who would have thought? We need more of this, and indeed more direct activism if we are not to lose everything of value in SA. As many people are saying, we need to come together to actively fight the dangerous nonsense being promoted by the Mantashe clique which of course certainly includes our president. The future they propose, and in which they are investing all their time and energies, and all our resources, is too horrendous to contemplate. So, how do we instigate the mass movement of caring people needed to finally stop the mindless ANC-led juggernaut from totally destroying South Africa and its people? Maybe start with a bringing together a true coalition of the ‘foreign funded’ environmental and social justice-oriented NGOs and CBOs, together with the more open-minded and creative unions and even political parties/independents, then put together something like a People’s Manifesto to counter the government (or rather ANC) narrative and trajectory which is taking us nowhere except into deeper trouble. OK , there’s nothing particularly new here, but I don’t think we can rely on the political system, any single political party, or the elections next year to save us. Thanks again Alex!

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      Hi Lawrence, to see positive peaceful change we simply need to vote in a better government. Perfect, no – better, yes. And luckily to keep things simple there is only one decent party in South Africa having the necessary size, infexperience and track record to take over, but it will need everyone’s support.

      And as more obvious every day, we no longer have the luxury of time. So my recommendation is that you – and everyone reading this – is spread the word to everyone you know to vote DA in 2024. If you need justification, just get them to come and visit Cape Town, or just check out Cape Town property prices over the last 10 years against the rest of the country’s.

      • idnankin says:

        The DA are not the solution they are part of the problem.

        • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

          Sadly I think you are actually – because like so many you see problems where in fact there is opportunity.

          To anyone with a brain, perfect or no, it is obvious that the DA is better than ANC by a huge margin – and they are the best equipped party to take over running of this country.

          And I do so hope you do have one because everyone’s future literally depends on intelligent people voting the ANC out – and the DA is literally the only option.

    • Alex Lenferna says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words Lawrence. We are thinking along very similar lines within the Climate Justice Coalition and hope to be moving something forward along those lines shortly.

  • Karl Nepgen says:

    I am sure old Gwede is doubling up with laughing. He is hopelessly too thick, and thick skinned, to recognise any truth.

  • Sadly, this is the truth of how corrupt our government is and how in a few years time we will be a Zimbabwe 2. My heart breaks when thinking of how such a beautiful country has become so corrupted in just 3 decades of ANC governance. Maybe one day when the lights completely go out (probably in the next few years) the ANC will get a wake-up call.

    • Gerrie Pretorius says:

      The anc has been the anc for more than 100 years. What makes you even think they are capable of ‘waking up’? They are too busy eating at the trough and scheming for new and better ways to keep ‘the people’ uninformed and uneducated, so they and the country can be screwed into oblivion.

  • William Kelly says:

    Stunning article. Absolutely outstandingly cynical.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    Cynical but so true.

    • Richard Worthington says:

      Is it cynical to call out the inconsistencies and vacuous populist posturing in this Minister’s attempts to justify sustaining SA continued dependence on fossil fuels – even if they have to be imported (e.g. for Karpowerships)?
      I find the piece wonderfully scathing, but the rallying cry for fighting against the slide into authoritarianism and the reckless pursuit of “development” that degrades our life-support system to further concentrate wealth, speaks to a faith in humanity that is far from cynical.

  • Thinker and Doer says:

    Very well put, thank you Mr Lenferna! The blame of NGOs for the failures of government to properly adhere to legislation and frustration at any questioning of what it was to force the country to implement in relation to energy is reprehensible scapegoating, that doesn’t fool anyone. It is quite clear what the motivations of Minister Mantashe are, and that every programme that he advocates is corrupt and is not in the interests of the country.

  • Walter Spatula says:

    ANC arrogance is boundless. It will be their downfall.

  • Richard Worthington says:

    Good job, DM: great combination of headline and graphic!

  • Kogi Singh says:

    Excellently phrased satire

  • Dee Bee says:

    Largely a well constructed piece, but it does cherry-pick quite a bit and intertwines environmental concerns and corruption, with nefarious politics too easily in pursuit of making a point. Shell’s Nigeria catastrophe has much to do with local people puncturing pipelines and stealing oil, rather than lousy extraction: it’s why the majors have largely abandoned onshore production in favour of deep-water offshore, where their assets are not affected by this problem.

    In Moz, Total’s project is under construction! Yet MozLNG has spend up to US$1Bn on local content and training, so to expect the company to pay more billions upfront before extracting anything is bizarre, but largely in line with those who seek to kill off the gas projects for climate change reasons, and neatly conflate the insurgency with oil and gas gripes. It’s way, way more complex than that.

    Clean energy? I’m a big fan and also want it – but if we turn our noses up at companies from politically undesirable countries, what does the author have to say about Acwa Power (Saudi) or Amea Power (UAE), developing major solar plants here. Not your beacons of probity or human rights torchbearers, are they?

    By all means, rip Gwede and the ANC to pieces, but do it honestly and objectively, not just cobbling together ‘evidence’ in support of an argument, whilst ignoring contradictory developments. Sorry to be the fly in the ointment, but this piece is a little self-serving for my likes.

    • Andrew Johnson says:

      Thank you for your astute observations. Satire and rage seldom lead us to understand the problems accurately.

      • Dee Bee says:

        I’m not opposed to satire or rage – they have a place in any debate and if used correctly can have devastating impacts on the debate. What I’m opposed to is selective half-truths being spun together as ‘fact’ in support of a position, when they don’t stack up: it is at this point that the rage and moral high ground become shaky. There are plenty of reasons to rage at Mantashe and the oil industry, the authors’ choice wasn’t very good.

  • Gazeley Walker says:

    Minister Mantashe, are you ruling this country and running it as a despotic ANC fifedom or are you governing the country by representing the will of the people? Last time I looked no one had died and made you the oracle with sole power to miracalise SA’s power and electricity problems, or given you the power to tell the people you purport to represent, what is good for them. The people are not as stupid or as pliable as you seem to believe, they understand your true intentions, especially given the fact that the Eskom trough may well be drying up.

  • Elmarie Dennis says:

    Definitely voting DA. Progressive selfless servant leadership. God bless the DA

  • Egmont Rohwer says:

    Pity that many South African either can’t read – or understand English – or can’ understand satire, otherwise we would not be in Kakstraat as we are now. Well said.

    • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

      I share your sentiments and have already put in a request to DM to please try to translate to at least one African language if at all possible as I believe the impact could be literally game changing for South Africa.

  • Kayser Sauze says:

    Responding to Mantashe’s outrances would have deserved a less lazy and less self serving demonstration that seems to be based on Tik Tok facts.
    So briefly: the Niger delta pollution has more to do with the uncontrolled theft of crude oil by the Nigerians from Shell’s pipes than a deliberate intention to spread the precious liquid everywhere. It is also doubtful that Total invested billions in Mozambique just for the nasty prospect to further the Islamic insurgency. Assuming that being a multinational company automatically makes it evil comes from the same ol’ backwater as Mantashe’s foreign forces paranoia, something that the author is trying (very) hard to ridicule.
    Oil and now gas are at the origin of the fantastic development of humans over the last 150 years. There is no other substitute for them now to produce baseload electricity than coal and nuclear. I am looking forward to having the writer’s explanation of the quantity of windmills and solar panels (and millions of hectares of lands) that would be needed to replace coal, oil/gas and nuclear in this country. And tons of expensive batteries too, cause renewable energies are intermittent and cannot be planned, all needing rare earth mined in the ecological paradises of DRC and China.
    So yes, let’s forgo our own national resources and jump in the unknown fantasy land of the green hydrogen and associated renewables, as if we already don’t pay dearly today for energy doctrinaire amateurism

  • William Dryden says:

    Highlights Mantashe for all he is worth and that is zilch. But then so are most of the government. I also wish the DA wins in 2024 then they can prosecute the looters and put the country back on track.

  • Change is good sa says:

    A plea to all opposition parties. Bury all ego’s and collaborate to end this sickening looting and destruction of South Africa. Let’s encourage the youth to go out and vote next year.
    They will not be voting for the ANC. They see the corruption in the ANC.
    Push back South Africa, let’s be the winning nation we want to be.

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