Jan 29, 2023

We Are In A Crisis, We Agree – Mbalula

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Mr Mbalula has also urged different government departments to work together to resolve the energy crisis. 

FILE PHOTO: ANC secretary-general Mr Fikile Mbalula speaking during the ANC Energy Crisis Symposium at the University of Johannesburg on Wednesday evening. PICTURE: Fikile Mbalula/Facebook

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JOHANNESBURG: Mr Mbalula was speaking as the ANC Secretary-General during the energy dialogue at UJ which was hit by the power cuts.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) says it plans to create more public engagements with all South Africans to discuss their problems.

The party hosted its Energy Dialogue at the University of Johannesburg to allow the public to directly engage public representatives on issues of energy.

The party’s Secretary General, Mr Fikile Mbalula, moderated the discussion, which was attended by ministers, academics, students, and business leaders.  

The party has been under growing pressure from voters affected by regular power cuts for almost two decades.  

Mr Mbalula says the party seeks to resolve the country’s energy crisis. 

”And even when our ministers are going astray in terms of transformation, there is no voice to listen to the different sectors. I hear a lot of young people, black, you know whom we have created, saying all sorts of things and all of that. And we don’t create platforms to engage with them. So this platform, as much as we’re theorising about the future, we are solution oriented. We are in a crisis. We agree. We are in a crisis,” he said.

Mr Mbalula has also urged different government departments to work together to resolve the energy crisis.  

“I’m not interested to hear about the complaints. I see Mantashe is under attack. I can explain that attack where it comes from, is under attack from a group of sections of our society. I can see that, but Eskom is run by De Ruyter and Eskom is under Pravin Gordhan. And Pravin Gordhan belongs to the cabinet and both of them are ANC ministers. So, we don’t want contradiction in public. Tell the public what we are doing to resolve the problem we are in,” he said.

Criticism Against Mr Mantashe Has Widen Amid Cabinet Reshuffle

Meanwhile, Mr Mbalula has called for party members to protect Mr Mantashe at all costs amid criticism over the energy crisis. 

Mr Mbalula said Mr Mantashe complained to him that some party members had criticised him after he defended the use of coal to generate power. He said Mr Mantashe was complaining as if he “had no hope”, saying people were “after him”.

“There is general anarchy in the organisation. When there is a problem you have 15 speakers and everybody thinks they have an opinion. There is nothing wrong with comrades talking,” Mr Mbalula said. 

“I have already addressed [former tourism minister and ANC stalwart] Derek Hanekom. I said: ‘This is how you want to thank us in retirement, that you have an opinion about Mantashe? It might be an opinion that is profound but don’t you think it belongs somewhere so that we resolve it?” said Mr Mbalula. 

He said Mr Mantashe was under attack from “liberals” over the issue of energy. 

“We are not saying anything must not be done [sic], we are talking about a balancing act. We are not saying we are abandoning coal,” he said. 

Earlier in January, Mr Mantashe stated that Eskom could be fixed within the next 6-12 months. 

Speaking on the Johannesburg-based 24-hour news channel, Mr Mantashe said, “Eskom must do introspection. Do we have the capacity, technically, to deal with the crisis? If not, can we go out and look for that capacity? If we don’t do that, it will be a very complex problem. It will take us 6-12 months to sort the issue if we pay attention to the issue.”

Mr Mantashe said Eskom should focus on power station maintenance to increase generation from its existing capacity.

The energy crisis symposium in Johannesburg organized was disrupted when a scheduled blackout meant that online speakers scheduled to address attendees couldn’t be heard. After about 15 minutes of disruption, online attendees were instead directed to the ANC’s social media accounts to watch the rest of the meeting.

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