For most Capetonians, the load shedding crisis that has plagued our city and our country for the past 14 years has profound implications for our daily lives. The economic decline caused by load shedding has trapped thousands of Capetonians in unemployment. Business owners have been forced to divert money that could have gone to productive investment into buying generators and fuel. Load shedding interrupts the workday and makes our economy less productive.
But the torment of load shedding does not stop once Capetonians get home after work. Some of our poorest communities live in crippling fear of crime when the streetlights go out after dark. Without electricity, families are forced to cook food on open fires, with the risk that they could lose their homes or lives if the fire gets out of control. Learners and students from poor households struggle to keep up at school, because they are forced to do homework or study by candlelight.
But there is one Capetonian who does not share in any of these hardships: President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The DA has been sent photos showing that, while the rest of Cape Town remains trapped in load shedding by the failures of his national government, Ramaphosa’s two mansions in the ultra-luxurious neighbourhood of Fresnaye is drenched in golden light. Since Ramaphosa and the rest of the ANC political elite are clearly out of touch with the devastating consequences of load shedding, it should come as no surprise that they have failed for over 14 years to fix this problem.
That is why the DA in Cape Town is determined to fix this problem ourselves.
We already shield Capetonians from one stage of load shedding using the Steenbras hydro-electric scheme. And recent amendments to the Electricity Regulation Act have opened the door for well-run municipalities like DA-led Cape Town to procure and generate our own electricity. The DA intends to kick down that door so we can end load shedding in Cape Town.
But there is likely to be one person still standing in the way, and that is Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. Mantashe has repeatedly made it clear that he is a fossil-fuel dinosaur who will do everything he can to stop our efforts to end load shedding. He tried to block the amendments empowering municipalities, as well as recent amendments to allow private electricity generation of up to 100 megawatts. As recently as last week, Mantashe “warned” that loosening Eskom’s grip around our throats and embracing renewable energy is “dangerous.”
Mr. President, as you read this from your generator-powered mansion high up against Signal Hill, I call upon you to imagine what load shedding is like for the millions of ordinary Capetonians who are not BEE-billionaires. And I ask that you put their interests ahead of your party’s interests by immediately firing Gwede Mantashe and replacing him with a new energy minister who will embrace and help facilitate Cape Town’s plans to end load shedding.
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