Tomorrow (1 December 2016), more than 500 women from Environmental Justice organisation, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, and grassroots partner organisations will descend on the Eskom regional offices in Braamfontein.
Dressed in black, the message that the woman wish to send to Eskom is that South Africa’s new energy plan, released on 22 November 2016, is farce and does not reflect the energy needs of women, and the communities that they support.
These women have been fighting and campaigning for an Integrated Energy Plan (IRP) that meets the needs of women, children, and future generations since the previous 2013 version mysteriously disappeared because it did not support an unconstitutional nuclear build. The IRP produced by the Department of Energy on 22 November simply does not fit the bill and is a total disappointment to the rights and well-being of South African women.
While the costs of renewables have dramatically dropped over the past couple of years, and renewable energy has the potential to produce employment and energy independence for struggling communities; the government insists on following a plan intended to maintain the interests of the vested elites in nuclear and coal. Interests which belong predominantly to men.
Like other civil society groups, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and partner organisations reject the long-awaited IRP and its flawed base case scenario.
The women will make the following demands of the Department of Energy and Eskom:
* The Department of Energy and Eskom must explain to civil society why it has released a cost non-competitive base case scenario that will spell dire economic, health and environmental impacts for most women in South Africa;
* The Department of Energy and Eskom must explain why it promotes the application of 20GW of new nuclear and 15GW of new coal by 2050 to the national grid while these energy types will force the price of electricity to skyrocket;
* The Department of Energy must supply civil society with all the supporting documents and the process used in developing the base case;
* The Department of Energy and Eskom must allow for adequate pubic participation in the process. Holding public hearings in December is simply unacceptable. Furthermore, the Department of Energy and Eskom must hold public education and consultation workshops on the plan and must give the public adequate notice to participate. Women are the most affected by these poorly constructed energy plans and need to be given a priority voice in a democratic energy decision making process.
The women also believe that the revised proposed IRP 2016 does nothing to address current energy poverty. The proposed IRP offers no solutions to the grievances which women and communities on the ground face with the accelerated electricity costs produced by prepaid maters.
Martha Mokate, spokesperson from the Soweto Electricity Crisis Community (SECC), comments: “Smart meters, like the new IRP are anything but smart, and nuclear and coal are not the solution. The new IRP does not even mention the most affordable way to provide communities and women with the Free Basic Electricity that they are entitled too, and in these uncertain economic times this should be the absolute priority of a government which claims to be working for the people.”