Is President Cyril Ramaphosa selling the country one state visit at a time?

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a National Statement during the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Implementation Summit held at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Conference Centre in the Arab Republic of Egypt. Picture: GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers a National Statement during the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Implementation Summit held at the Sharm El-Sheikh International Conference Centre in the Arab Republic of Egypt. Picture: GCIS

Published Nov 10, 2022


Johannesburg - South Africans are concerned that President Cyril Ramaphosa is selling the country one state visit at a time.

This week, Ramaphosa attended the 2022 UN Climate Change Conference, or COP27. This year the conference was held in Egypt with Ramaphosa committing the country to the Just Energy Transition (JET) Investment Plan.

Ramaphosa said the country’s transition from fossil fuels to green energy will cost at least $90 trillion (R1.6 quadrillion).

During his speech, Ramaphosa committed the country into doing away with the country's coal reserves which are said to have a life span of over 400 years. “We are already scaling up investment in renewable energy, and are on course to retire several of our ageing coal-fired power plants by the end of 2030,” he said.

Last month, Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter said meeting air quality standards would force Eskom to decommission as much as 16 GW of its coal-fired power stations, which would exacerbate load shedding to unprecedented stages.

The recent Eskom’s modelling showed that the decommission of plants could lead to stage 15 load shedding which will put the country in total darkness due to power stations that would be closed down for not meeting air quality limitations.

The collapse of SEOs such as Eskom, Denel, the Post Office and SAA continues to anger opposition political parties, trade unions and ordinary South Africans.

Leaders of the EFF Julius Malema and Floyd Shivambu have vowed to oppose Ramaphosa's plans to shut down and decommission coal mines in the country.

The EFF accused Ramaphosa of surrendering the country’ future to environmental imperialists and create job losses in small towns such as Emalahleni, Secunda, Lephalale and many others which economies are based on coal extraction.

The EFF said it distances itself and condemns the “nonsensical and suicidal” commitments made by Ramaphosa at COP27.

“Following on his surrender to environmental imperialism at the COP26 in Scotland 2021, Ramaphosa re-emphasised the destruction of coal mining communities in the guise of an unverifiable Just Transition to renewable energy,” the party said.

Political commentator Lukhona Mnguni said Ramaphosa should stop attaching his signature to international partners without engaging the country's needs in these matters.

“President Ramaphosa's enthusiasm to go around attaching his signature on our behalf is extremely worrying. This deal at #COP27 smells, walks, sounds, looks and feels like nothing but a sham. Parliament will have to summon the President to explain himself to the nation,” Mnguni said.

Land First Black First leader Andile Mngxitama said there is no justice in Ramaphosa’s call to end coal to the unrealistic renewables.

“This is another strategy of looting and energy colonialism. Germany is reverting to coal because of the cost and unreliability of renewables. This president is a stooge of the US and is driven by corporate motives through his family connections via Patrice Motsepe who stands to benefit from the so-called green energy," he said.

Numsa spokesperson Phakamile Hlubi-Majola said Numsa had in 2018 approached the courts to stop former minister Jeff Radebe from approving the rollout of of bids 1-4 of the renewable energy independent power producers out of concern that this programme will not serve the interests of the country's ordinary people.

“The collapse of SOEs should be seen in the context of the ANC government’s determination to advance a neo-liberal agenda, which has failed for 28 years to transform the lives of the majority. The ANC government has perverted the phrase JET with this deal because nothing in SA’s JET is just because there is no social plan even for Mpumalanga province which will be the most affected by the closure of coal mines,“ she said.

Cosatu said it is in support of a just and equitable transition from coal to renewable energy and has asked government to be upfront with its citizens.

“Cosatu agrees with minister Gwede Mantashe that it is critical that consultation takes place between government, business and labour each step of the way. We need to know the conditions and interests attached to such funding,” Sizwe Pamla said.

Attempts to get ANC comment on the justification of this deal and other issues affecting SEOs were not fruitful at the time of going to press and the Office of the President also did not respond to enquiries.

The Star