Thabo Mbeki’s revisionist stance on the load-shedding crisis is outright lies

Issued by Ghaleb Cachalia MP – DA Shadow Minister of Public Enterprises
27 Aug 2023 in News

Note to editors: Please find attached soundbite by Ghaleb Cachalia MP.

Former President, Thabo Mbeki’s historical amnesia and gross mischaracterisation of the factors that led to the ongoing load-shedding crisis borders on propaganda and outright lies. It was Mbeki’s ANC administration which committed the original sin by failing to invest in new generation capacity when they were warned that demand was close to outstripping supply.

Speaking at an event organised by UNISA last week, Mbeki is reported to have shifted the blame on the origins of the load-shedding crisis entirely to Eskom. He made the claim that Eskom’s management deliberately caused an electricity crisis and load-shedding “…because the people in charge of the power stations did not do what they were supposed to do – replenish coal.”

In a cowardly cop-out in which he tried to absolve himself and his ANC administration from any responsibility, Mbeki said that the narrative that his government ignored warnings to invest in new generation capacity and infrastructure was “false” and “cooked up”.

This is the same Mbeki, who in 2007 was quoted saying “When Eskom said to the government: ‘We think we must invest more in terms of electricity generation’, we said no, but all you will be doing is just to build excess capacity. We said not now, later. We were wrong. Eskom was right. We were wrong”. Mbeki must inform us what has changed from this position that has warranted his sudden turn to absolve himself of any responsibility.

In December 1998, the Department of Minerals and Energy – in a White Paper, warned that “Eskom’s present generation capacity surplus will be fully utilised by about 2007. Timely steps will have to be taken to ensure that demand does not exceed available supply capacity…”. This repudiates all the lies that Mbeki is now trying to drip fid the country in the vain hope that it would help the ANC escape culpability over what was essentially a gross dereliction of duty by his administration.

The truth is, the first seeds of South Africa’s electricity crisis were sown by Mbeki’s ANC administration. His actions, or lack thereof, has led to a 16-year crisis that has led to the loss of hundreds of billions of rand, a stagnant economy and one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.

If anything, Mbeki must apologise to South Africans for the role that he, Jacob Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa have played in almost collapsing the economy.