South Africans have said no to load shedding but will politicians listen?

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announcing the results of the 2024 general and provincial elections. Photo: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announcing the results of the 2024 general and provincial elections. Photo: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 5, 2024


The election outcome was akin to an electric shock. Who would have thought that in the 2024 end of elections things would have changed so drastically politically? I pin down the whole election's outcome and results on a “No to load shedding” vote.

The elections clearly sent a shocking message. Not only did the voters reduce their support to the ANC to a minuscule 40%, but the Democratic Alliance’s voting outcome remained stagnant.

This sent a clear message to the two leading parties in votes that South Africans in the majority did not agree with their parties manifestos and policies, particularly on energy. Furthermore, punishing the ANC for its lacklustre performance in the previous administration and the DA for its continuous energy policy interference.

Were we right when we pointed to the fact that South Africans are angry? Yes, we were right. Yet no one could have read the room to uncover such a chilling election outcome.

Just two months before the elections the outgoing administration worked tirelessly to ensure that it temporarily halted load shedding.

The outgoing administration needed to restore badly dented confidence in its ability to lead, and overcome the energy crisis that has paralysed the South African economy. But that last bid attempt didn't turn the tables around and failed to assure the ruling party a majority victory. As the saying goes: Too little too late.

It is clear that the key issues that featured in this election converged around the electricity crisis. Looking at how the majority voters voted you can see a pattern emerge. Nearly 80% of votes - making a two-thirds majority - went to pro-transformation parties that openly supported a coal and nuclear baseload energy plan.

The two-third majority of South Africans want South Africa to focus on growing the economy, and investing in revitalising the South African economy through the exploitation and use of fossil fuels to fuel economic growth.

All political parties that supported coal and nuclear and were anti-unbundling were rewarded with massive votes. What does that tell you? People are tired of the outgoing ruling party and minority opposition on how they interfered with South African energy policy.

The voters showed a total refusal in accepting the changes in the Electricity Regulation Act (ERA) Amendment Bill of 2023, which was just recently passed by parliament and had received overwhelming support from the DA in the opposition bench. The South African voters openly rejected the ERA amendment law and protested through their votes. They clearly refused for the bill to be ascended.

South Africa is headed into the unknown territory of a mix-masala coalition political landscape where political parties and their policies will be tested to the limits.

Even the ANC is in shock at the election outcome and very few could explain why it experienced such a catastrophic drop in electoral support. Like I said in my previous column in Business Report, “Eskom: In the 2024 elections electricity is what broke the camel's back”.

Indeed, “the chickens had come home to roost” as Malcolm X famously said in response to a journalist when asked about the gunning down of former US President JF Kennedy.

In these 2024 elections the chicken has come home to roost and made a clear case of disapproval of the way things are being run in South Africa.

People have not been happy with the way the country has been run. Millions of South Africans have been pushed to the brink of survival, amid a rapidly collapsing economy and a lack of a guaranteed electricity supply, which has decimated jobs and deepened poverty. It was a ticking time bomb for the ANC.

The election voter turnout was miserable with about 58% of registered voters voting. The loss of electoral support is also indicative of a deep seated sense of apathy towards the leadership on offer in this country.

Institutional confidence has also been undermined by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). Despite the elections being ruled free and fair, the IEC system crashed and failed, and caused mayhem.

With 26 parties protesting the results, logging more than 574 complaints and taking the IEC to court claiming that elections were rigged and were not free and fair, these concerns can not be brushed off lightly.

Now with horse-trading around a coalition government, it is a wait and see game as to the outcome and how it will affect South Africa’s energy future. The voters have spoken, but will South African politicians listen?

Recap on some of the Elections 2024 electricity manifestos:

ANC: The ANC will prioritise investment in expanding the transmission grid so that more energy, including from renewable sources, can be supplied; install solar water geysers in working class and poor households to support job creation and local manufacturing; develop gas, nuclear and hydro power projects for increased energy generation.

DA: It aims to improve the reliability of power supply by unbundling and restructuring Eskom to establish an open electricity market; Move Eskom away from power generation as far as possible; Establish the remaining part of Eskom responsible for transmission into a separate grid and market.

EFF: It will invest in repairing the existing power generation fleet by adopting “clean coal technologies”; Reduce the electricity demand of major electricity users, including revoking preferential tariff deals for certain corporations; Terminate all existing contracts with independent power producers.

MK: Review and repeal all privatisation agreements, the Independent Power Producers programme, and the unbundling of Eskom; Reverse and rescind the Un-Just Transition from coal, renew Eskom’s coal fleet and accelerate Eskom’s Nuclear New Build program. Ensure that key state state-owned enterprises provide cheap electricity, water, and transport for citizens and industry.

Rise Mzansi: It supports a balanced, green energy mix. Coal should steadily decrease as a primary energy source; Scale solar, wind and energy storage; Create a role for gas as baseload generation and for energy security in the transition, as well as next generation nuclear based on small, modular reactors.

FF Plus: It will prioritise the use of renewable energy; deregulate the electricity sector to allow competition between electricity suppliers; Unbundle Eskom completely and privatise the separate entities

UDM: TIt will discard Eskom’s monopolistic practices in the electricity distribution and supply; Ensure that all stakeholders in the industry have maximum possible grid access; Propose a public/private partnership model for the privatisation of Eskom where government holds a 51% stake.

Al-Jama-ah: It will ensure the prioritisation of the continuous supply of electricity to all communities in both urban and rural areas; Explore a reasonable and sustainable mix of energy solutions such as renewable and nuclear energy.

BOSA: It will adopt a back-to-basics approach; Ensure that functional energy market players, including the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy utilities, traders and regulatory bodies are accountable to energy end users; Enable the entrance of multiple energy companies

IFP: Open the energy market and diversify energy generation; Stabilise the electricity power grid. Eskom is a national asset which has been mismanaged into a state of severe disrepair. Eskom must be managed through a public-private partnership; Further subsidise the price of electricity for poor and historically disadvantaged communities domestic purposes, especially cooking and heating.

Crown Prince Adil Nchabeleng is president of Transform RSA and an independent energy expert.

* The views in this column are independent of “Business Report” and Independent Media.