Protestors marched towards the ruling African National Congress’s headquarters, Luthuli House, while chanting “Down with the ANC,” as they expressed dissatisfaction with their government whom they blame for the electricity black outs that started last July.
Christine Nkosi, a Johannesburg local who was among the protestors, vowed not to pay her electricity bill until the energy crisis is addressed.
“We’re no longer paying for electricity and if we don’t all stand up, show resistance, we are all going to continue having the problems we have,” said Nkosi.
“For some people this is a life-threatening thing, there are patients who are oxygen-dependent and people who survive on their livelihoods,” she added.
Upon taking over the presidency in 2018, President Cyril Ramaphosa assured citizens that power outages would be a thing of the past, however locals say the crisis has worsened during his four years of leadership.
In response to Wednesday’s demonstrations, leaders of the ruling party refused to address the disgruntled locals, instead instructed some of its youth members to “protect” Luthuli House.
Thandi Moraka, the ANC’s youth league spokesperson said she shares the frustrations echoed by the protestors however urged them to direct their anger towards the national power provider, Eskom.
“There’s no ANC leader who’s going to come out and take any memorandum from them (protestors), so they must take their memorandum to Eskom,” said Moraka.
John Steenhuisen, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance said he differs with Moraka and added that the ruling party is the “root of the electricity disaster.”
“You only need to look at this house behind us (Luthuli House) because that is ground zero of the crisis in South Africa,” said Steenhuisen.
“It’s in that criminal house where the tenders were dished out for Medupi and Kusile and it’s also where the Hitachi deal was hatched, where the ANC made millions of rands at your expense,” he added.
The opposition leader also said Ramaphosa could easily push for independent contractors to produce clean energy that could feed electricity into the grind, but further alleged that the president lacked courage to do so because it would be at the expense of ANC members that are benefitting from multi-million-rand coal contracts.
South Africa’s Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana recently attended the World Economic Forum in Switzerland where he addressed the energy crisis and assured potential investors that the power black outs would be a thing of the past within the next 12-18 months.
“Eventually in the next 12-18 months we will be able to say load-shedding is a thing of the past and that is the target,” said Gogongwana.