Apartheid to blame for blackouts – Zuma
Johannesburg – South Africa’s energy problems were a product of apartheid and government was not to blame for the current blackouts, President Jacob Zuma said on Friday.
“The problem [is] the energy was structured racially to serve a particular race, not the majority,” Zuma told delegates at the Young Communist League’s congress in Cape Town.He said the ANC had inherited the power utility from the previous regime which had only provided electricity to the white minority.
Twenty years into democracy, 11 million households had access to electricity, double the number in 1994, Zuma said in a speech prepared for delivery.
That is true, as far as it goes, but it is not the whole story.
Apartheid can be blamed for many things, but not for this.
Yes, the number of households with access to electricity has doubled since 1994, and for that we can thank the ANC government, and they did a good thing there.
But they failed to foresee that increasing the distribution of electricity required a corresponding increase of generating capacity,
Eskom foresaw this, but for ten years and more the ANC government blocked Eskom’s requests for funding to increase the generating capacity.
- Apartheid is not to blame for this.
- Eskom is not to blame for this.
- The ANC government is to blame for this.
And President Mbeki apologised for this back in 2008.
As a Facebook friend commented:
Actually people in the know have told me it is not Eskom’s fault but the ANC government’s who have faffed around for at least 15 years, playing around with options for new power stations, and playing around with ideas for privatization which attract in the same way as the arms deal did; it is a lack of decisive policy making and implementation by the government. Of course the Zuma culprits and their defenders will blame apartheid.
It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good, however, and the ANC’s shortsightedness saved South Africa from an even worse disaster (that they were planning to bring about).
A Canadian aluminium-smelting firm had noticed that in South Africa electricity was cheaper than in most other places, and were negotiating to build an aluminium smelting plant in Richard’s Bay, with guaranteed cheap rates. You can be sure that the poor communities who had recently had electricity supplied to them would have their rates increased to subsidise it.
Now I learnt in school geography lessons that the most expensive thing in producing aluminium was the electricity needed for smelting it, and this was why it was big in Canada, because Canada had abundant hydro-electricity for smelting aluminium, no mattter where in the world it was mined.
So why move the sdmelting operation to South Africa, which has mainly coal-fired power stations, which cause far more pollution than hydro-electricity? Because the poor suckers in Soweto would subsidise it, that’s why.
And, just in the nick of time, the espansion of electricity distribution to previously disadvantaged communities outran Eskom’s deliberately-limited supply in 2008, and there were rolling blackouts and load-shedding, so the plan for a smelting plant in Richard’s Bay was cancelled.
And only then did the ANC government wake up to the fact that if you are going to distribute electricity to more people, you need to generate more electricity. But it was too little, too late.
For those (like Jake the Fake) who have short memories, here is a report of President Thabo Mbeki’s State of tghe Nation speech at the time Government at Fault in S. Africa’s Electricity Crisis, Mbeki Says:
President Thabo Mbeki apologized Friday for his government’s failure to prevent crippling power outages across South Africa and warned that restoring a reliable supply of electricity would require new projects and major cuts in usage.
You can blame apartheid for many things, but you can’t blame it for this.