South Africa News

The money we need to fix the energy crisis is in private hands, says Thabo Mbeki

The second day of the African National Congress’s sixth policy conference has raised a number of topics and challenges that face the country.

The publication’s associate editor Tshidi Madia spoke to former president Thabo Mbeki about the country’s energy crisis and Eskom, the Zondo commission, and the progress of the 2022 ANC policy conference so far.

According to Mbeki, the ANC has been discussing a wide range of topics, from women’s empowerment to the implications of the Zondo commission in order to find real policy solutions to the lived reality of South Africans.

“My sense in all of those discussions is the delegates are treating each one of those [topics] in a very serious way, with a very serious focus… there is a very good understanding of the current reality,” said the former head of state.

When asked about those implicated in the Zondo report coming forward, he said that the ANC was taking time to respond to all the information and that the members would not act outside of the process of the party.

“I doubt you will get individual actions from these ANC members. They will act in terms of the outcome of this organized process.”

He said that a task team was assigned to work through the report and a detailed response by the party must be ready by the end of August.

In terms of the energy crisis and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan for power generation after a cold winter without on stage six load-shedding, he said that involvement by the private sector was not a new policy, and it was the best way to use the capital that was needed for development.

“Capital, this money you need for development in this country, is essentially in private hands,” Mbeki said.

Mbeki is no stranger to the government’s struggle to keep up with electricity demand while also dealing with a variety of challenges at Eskom that have weakened the country’s power generation capacity.

During his tenure, however, he was stonewalled by the ANC when his administration sought to pursue public-private partnerships.

A partnership with private entities and people was not only needed by the government to fix the energy crisis, but to invest in much-needed development in the country and to stimulate the economy, he said.

Last week, Ramaphosa announced targeted plans through which more electricity would be generated onto the grid on Monday.

This includes the removal of the energy generation cap for embedded electricity generation, as well as enabling businesses and households to invest in rooftop solar systems.

Mbeki backed the Ramaphosa administration’s decision on energy as rational, despite some commentators having criticized the president’s government for “waiting too long”.

“You must access the private sector to say, ‘please come in, we’ve got our limited pool of money as the state, but you’ve got also a large sum of money, please come in, let’s act on this.’ That is correct.”


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Patrick Shai

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