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No ‘pie in the sky’ — Malema defends pledge to fix power cuts in only six months

No ‘pie in the sky’ — Malema defends pledge to fix power cuts in only six months
EFF leader Julius Malema at the party's election manifesto launch at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 10 February 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

Experts say five years is the best we can hope for, but EFF leader Julius Malema is sticking to his guns.

EFF leader Julius Malema is adamant that load shedding will be halted within months under the leadership of the red berets.

With the help of disputed figures, the EFF promises to end the electricity crisis in six months if the party wins power.

EFF leader Julius Malema addressed the media on Thursday, 15 February, fiercely defending the promise in the party’s manifesto. He slammed any notion that the ambitious manifesto was just “pie in the sky”.

“The emphasis on stopping load shedding is due to the fact that, despite many empty promises, the South African government has not brought forth a dependable electricity plan,” he said.

Malema believes some familiar faces must be asked to return to Eskom, because all hands should be on deck.

“Brian Molefe is waiting, ready. Matshela Koko is waiting, ready… and many other professionals, including the current [Eskom] CEO [Dan Marokane], by the way,” Malema said.

Molefe is the former Eskom boss who has faced allegations of corruption.

He appeared be­fore the Zondo Commission, ac­­cused of intentionally withholding Glencore-owned Optimum Coal Mine funds to enable the Gupta family to buy the coal mine.

He was also blamed for slow progress in completing big projects at Medupi, Kusile and Ingula.

Koko took the reins after Molefe’s resignation and has faced his share of controversy.

He was accused of influencing a deal in which the Swiss engineering firm ABB secured a R2.2-billion contract at the Kusile Power Station in Mpumalanga.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024 Knowledge Base

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections

It is alleged that those involved in the scheme received kickbacks, and millions went into companies connected to Koko’s daughters. However, his case has been struck off the court roll because of unreasonable delays.

The EFF wants to emulate China’s successful model of electricity security. China is one of the world’s top energy producers and consumers. Its portfolio consists mainly of domestic coal, domestic and foreign oil and gas, and small quantities of uranium.

The EFF has emphasised the importance of repairing South Africa’s existing power stations and adopting clean coal technologies. Although the EFF is not averse to green energy, it believes now is not the time to hastily shut down coal power stations.

Experts express doubt

Professor Hartmut Winkler, an energy expert, believes it is not possible to end load shedding in such a short time. He says it is unfortunate that political parties are using the power crisis as a “vote-catcher”.

“I expect that ending load shedding would take five years, and only if Kusile, Medupi and Koeberg become fully functional again and lots of new solar and wind farms are built. Even the latest draft Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity currently out for comment expects continued power cuts for roughly five years,” he says.

He adds that, although China has increased its electricity generating capacity on a much bigger scale than elsewhere, it would be difficult for South Africa to achieve equivalent success using the same model.

“For a start, there are many more checks and balances in South Africa that have to precede new developments: environmental impact assessments, consultative processes, potential legal challenges,” he says.

“Perhaps more importantly, China is also much stronger economically, whereas South Africa could only initiate large new projects with very large loans or other forms of (often disadvantageous) foreign assistance.

“China also already manufactures most of the required technological components, while South Africa would need to import many of these.”

Winkler says there should be greater strides towards implementing alternative power sources because South Africa has the best weather for them.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Eskom news

Read more in Daily Maverick: Eskom Intelligence Files

“I do not think that South Africa’s involvement in the Just Energy Transition Partnerships is premature. Given our superb weather conditions, South Africa should in any event be moving far more strongly into renewables than is currently the case, whether there are external financial incentives or not,” he says.

“Most of the coal plant closures would be a long way into the future, and in most cases involve plants that by then would probably cost more to maintain than it is worth.

“I do not foresee the closure of any well-functioning coal plant while the danger of load shedding persists.”

Professor Kristy Langerman of the University of Johannesburg believes South Africa should focus on getting coal-fired stations up and running while accelerating its move to renewable energy.

“Renewable energy alone will not pull us out of load shedding any time soon. But South Africa’s involvement in the just energy transition needs to accelerate. South Africa has outstanding renewable energy resources, and wind and solar power are almost carbon-neutral and economically feasible. We ultimately should still be planning to move away from coal.”

Like Winkler, she categorically states that it will not be possible to eradicate rolling blackouts in just six months.

She goes on: “The two problems with adopting the Chinese model are that the reliance on fossil fuel and associated greenhouse gas emissions contributes significantly to climate change, and China is not as democratic in [its] decision-making.”

EFF manifesto ‘sabotage’

The EFF held its manifesto launch last weekend in Durban, a stronghold of the IFP and the ANC.

In the run-up to the event, Malema faced antipathy from his archnemesis, Ngizwe Mchunu, president of the traditionalist organisation Amabhinca.

Although the EFF intended to fill Moses Mabhida Stadium, Mchunu planned a cultural festival to rival the event.

Malema told the media that he believed ANC KwaZulu-Natal secretary Bheki Mtolo was in cahoots with Mchunu in trying to draw attention away from the EFF’s manifesto launch. Though the party failed to fill the 56,000-capacity stadium, Malema said he was content with the support.

“We take note that, despite the EFF success, the state attempted to undermine our programme using tribalism disguised as cultural events, and failed,” he said.

“The EFF condemns tribalism, and we call on all our structures and ground forces… to remain focused and disciplined without degenerating into tribalist tendencies.

“Mtolo’s entertainment of tribalism… is scary. For the first time we have a leader of the ANC who is a tribalist of note.”

In response to Malema, Mtolo told Daily Maverick that he refused to be blamed for what he called poor attendance at the EFF rally: “I wonder why on Earth will I be blamed for the dismal failure of an EFF rally… where people left when he was busy speaking unscientific and unrealistic things.”

KwaZulu-Natal is one of the most contested provinces in this year’s elections. The entry of former president Jacob Zuma’s MK Party has put a spanner in the works.

Election expert Wayne Sussman says the prospects of the EFF growing in the province are almost nonexistent.

“The EFF can do well in the north of the country but I think they will battle in KwaZulu-Natal, where they grew a lot in the last elections. I would be very surprised if they grow [in the coming election],” he says.

The EFF is the fourth-largest party in KwaZulu-Natal, where it received 349,361 votes (9%) in the provincial election in 2019.

It won 10.8% nationally in 2019. A recent Ipsos poll put the party at 19.6% in this year’s general election. Another recent poll suggested the EFF could take 16% nationally and 12% in KwaZulu-Natal.

The polls were conducted before the MK Party was established, and its impact has already been evident in recent by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal.

In the past week the MK Party was the third-largest party in Ward 2 in uPhongolo, Zululand. In its debut, in AbaQulusi, Zululand, the party received 19% of the vote, which also put it in third place. The EFF did not fare well in either by-election.

Requirements for candidates

The red berets concluded their nominee list conference on Monday, 12 February. Malema gave the assurance that only the best would be selected to represent the party in provincial legislatures and Parliament.

The EFF requires nominees to represent the demographics of South Africa. This means ensuring that 40% of its candidates are young, and 50% or more are women. The party requires nominees to have passed matric and at least 10 candidates should hold PhDs.

The EFF has 44 MPs, 11 members of the National Council of Provinces and 50 members of provincial legislatures. Malema is one of five South African representatives at the Pan-African Parliament. DM

This story first appeared in our weekly Daily Maverick 168 newspaper, which is available countrywide for R29.



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Andy Macdonald says:

    He’s nuts. His claim can safely be ignored.

    • Random Comment says:

      Mr. Malema will form a coalition government with the ANC and may very well be the kingmaker in various cities and municipalities.

      We should take him very seriously indeed, even if ostensibly crazy.

      • Paddy Ross says:

        He can not form a coalition with the ANC unless the ANC are willing to do so which, to my mind, would be ‘selling their soul to the devil’. The EFF and MK(whatever) would be a more realistic coalition but would be nowhere as far as a majority to govern is concerned. Malema is at least honest in naming whom he would invite back even if they were the major players in the demolition of ESKOM.

  • John P says:

    Now we know where Ramokgopa’s magic wand went, into Malema’s pocket.

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