Today many people due to sheer frustration are making the biggest mistake of comparing the apartheid era system with the democratic system of governance.
To the extent where apartheid is unduly glorified for claimed success in providing a decent life for black people.
Most people venting and glorifying apartheid are doing so purely because they are frustrated with the current government’s inability to provide basics such energy and electricity security, among other service delivery issues.
We should all be asking the honest question.
What went wrong, how come during the height of apartheid the Nationalist government under apartheid never used electricity generation and supply as a tool of repression on ordinary people’s lives?
But today in a free democratic country, under the ANC government, whether unintentionally or intentional, is now using electricity as a repressive tool.
Something that is totally alien to the freedom struggle.
Is the ANC government knowingly or unknowingly using electricity generation and supply as a repressive tool to control society by slow down the pace of growth and economic progress and transformation of our society?
A quick look on the meaning of the word repressive, and you find a rich tapestry of words in a thesaurus layout.
(especially of a social or political system) inhibiting or restraining the freedom of a person or group of people.
“a repressive regime”;
synonyms: oppressive, authoritarian, despotic, tyrannical, tyrannous, dictatorial, fascist, autocratic, undemocratic, antidemocratic, totalitarian, dominating, coercive, draconian, iron- fisted, harsh, severe, strict, tough, cruel, brutal, illiberal, suppressive
These word have now come to define the energy landscape in all it’s facets and debates in SA.
Hypocritical emotions drive the energy agenda and science no longer dictates the choice of the energy pathway our country should adopt.
Our government has weaponized the generation and supply of electricity. And it is using its newly found power to alter the course of SA’s economic direction.
Majority South Africans are today much poorer due to lost opportunities caused by load shedding and constant power cuts. This beautiful country has now turned into a mere shadow of its past.
As each day passes so are the days of our lives. This tagline from a television series is a reminder of the wasted days and opportunities we have missed, due the to current ongoing energy crisis.
The economic losses and the recession in SA in the past few years as a result of load shedding could been have avoided, had the ruling party stood firm to protect SA’s energy sovereignty by all means necessary.
The longest TV series to ever flight was the American blockbuster soapie Days of Our Lives. I grew up watching the soapie in my early years, during the last decade and vestiges of apartheid.
Back then electricity was available 24/7 without ever experiencing load shedding.
The tv channels options ranged from free to air SABC1;2;3;4 and Mnet’s DSTV option.
So we could watch all the trending TV programs and series from around the world.
Of course black townships had electricity and television during apartheid, during that period the SABC was firing on all cylinders. The only irritating thing was that TV channels were segmented according to regional homeland languages.
The best global channels to watch at time were unaccessible to us in the bantustan homelands.
We could not even view Bop TV (Bophuthatswana TV) channels. Bop TV somehow had the best up to date programming and their content was on flick.
It was a frightening era, everything worked perfectly yet the country was in the grip of the most turbulent political instability crisis. Although ESCOM just kept going, supplying uninterrupted electricity to all bantustan homelands townships.
The majority SA black population were up in arms around the country protesting and demanding freedom. Which later led to the collapse of the apartheid system and government.
The phenomena of power cuts and load shedding started some years after the end of apartheid.
During apartheid however hard the situation was politically, you were always guaranteed that the Nats’ government will never drop the ball when it came to providing electricity.
Apartheid was evil, never can we ever condone its evil acts against humanity. But to use apartheid continuously as an excuse to cover up the most evident failures of our current failures in government is a sign of laziness.
The Nationalist government had a profound understanding of governance and power and they built the most capable state ever seen on the African continent. They had a deep fundamental understanding of the role played by electricity in the country and the impact that electricity has on society in general.
Today we know for a fact that no economy can exist, grow and create jobs and provide economic prosperity without guaranteed generation and supply of electricity.
For years after the dawn of democracy the ruling party together with the leading opposition party in parliament played games like double dutch on the issues of electricity and electricity policies.
Reports after reports were penned and issued as warning signals regarding the pending energy crisis SA if the government did not take steps to build brand new power stations.
Many of those reports were simply overlooked and ignored. And it was business as usual. As the demand for energy grew over the last 20 years due the increase in population and rapid urbanization and spike in technological advances.
So did the generation and supply of guaranteed electricity shrink due to the high demand of electricity while supply was whittling away slowly disappearing into private interests.
The basic law of supply and demand.
Our lives, economic growth and progress as a society and the GDP of our economy is sacrificed on the alter of elitism.
Act No. 4,2006 ELECTRICITY REGULATION ACT, 2006
The Electricity Act and the Eskom Act is very clear on its ambitious legislative objectives.
Objects of Act.
The objects of this Act are to -
(a) achieve the efficient, effective, sustainable and orderly operation of electricity supply infrastructure in South Africa;
(b) ensure that the interests and needs of present and future electricity customers and end users are safeguarded and met, having regard to the governance, efficiency. effectiveness and long-term sustainability of the electricity supply industry within the broader context of economic energy regulation in the Republic:
(c) facilitate investment in the electricity supply industry;
(d) facilitate universal access to electricity;
(e) promote the use of diverse energy sources and energy efficiency;
(f) promote competitiveness and customer and end user choice;
(g) and facilitate a fair balance between the interests of customers and end users, licensees,
Perusing through this Act you soon realize that as a country we are in trouble. Legislation is a tool to measure the effective implementation and administration of government policies and programs.
To date these laws exists particularly the Electricity Amendment Act, but very few within the Executive have the knowledge and understanding of these laws.
How these laws work and impact their day-to-day work in Eskom, government and Parliament.
The only areas unserved with electricity during apartheid was rural areas and deep in the berg, far flung areas that where remote.
The overall majority of urbanized areas enjoyed secure guaranteed electricity.
One would have thought that the Nationalist apartheid government at the time would use electricity supply as a weapon to suppress the majority African communities as a punitive punishment for the protests and demonstrations against the apartheid regime.
Crown Prince Adil Nchabeleng is president of Transform RSA and an independent energy expert.
* The views of the column are independent of Business Report and Independent Media.