The TownhallBusinessPolitics

Environmental organizations are fueling South Africa’s energy crisis

By Gugulethu Hughes

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors. View more opinion on ScoonTV. 

Contrary to what South Africa’s government says, the country’s ongoing energy crisis is not an engineering problem but an engineered problem. Organizations like the World Bank, IMF, UN, UNEP and others, including individual Western countries, have pioneered an ambitious climate change control program for South Africa to reduce its reliance on coal. Beyond the pioneering, some of these organizations and Western countries like the USA, Germany, France, and Britain are also financing this transition from light to darkness. 

At the heart of this tragedy are “environmental” concerns, and South Africa is being used as a test ground in the same manner Wuhan was for the COVID-19 lockdowns. Because the environment is the perfect path for the recolonization of Africa, it follows that well-funded environmental NGOs do the lobbying for imperialist principles. In South Africa, these organizations are buoyed by the Eurocentric judiciary and serve as mechanisms for putting checks and controls on the government to ensure that Western interests occupy center stage. 

Greenpeace describes itself as an independent environmental organization that uses creative techniques to achieve its goals. In the past, the organization has received funding from foundations and philanthropic organizations such as the Tides Foundation, Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, Oak Foundation, and Park Foundation among others. 

Earlier this year, Greenpeace Africa members stormed the energy indaba held in Cape Town and interrupted the Minister of Energy Gwede Mantashe’s speech. During the campaign, the organization singled out coal as the cause for power blackouts in the country. The targeting of Gwede Mantashe was well in symphony with the attitudes of other climate change activists who see him as a roadblock to phasing out coal. 

In a document produced by the organization in 2013 titled Powering the Future -Renewable Energy Rollout in South Africa, Executive Director Michael O’Brien Onyeka wrote, “Greenpeace believes that the South African government needs to urgently decouple economic development from coal and nuclear-based electricity. These outdated technologies require energy intensive and polluting mining processes and generate a large proportion of South Africa’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), while creating an enormous water shortage. Current energy planning is dangerously short-sighted, ignoring the vast external costs of both coal and nuclear and which fail to provide electricity for millions of citizens. Greenpeace questions why the government continues to support coal-based power plants and the centralized energy distribution supply, when renewable energy is cheaper, provides universal access and creates thousands of jobs…” 

Such gigantic levels of ignorance both in engineering and basic energy concepts coming from such a high-level person is evidence enough of well-funded views. No ethical person would want to be quoted on such myopia. 

Through the 2013 Powering the Future document, Greenpeace recommended that South Africa make the transition from coal in some of the following ways. First, government commitment to energy decisions must show a clear move away from fossil fuels and there must be synchronization of government policy throughout the various departments addressing energy issues. Next, they demand that the use of state funds must be directed towards investment in renewable energy and not coal or nuclear. Additionally, grid priority must be given to renewable energy sources. The organization also called on power utility Eskom to produce a 20-year plan on how it plans to transition from coal. 

All the recommendations made by Greenpeace in 2013 have been adopted by Cyril Ramaphosa’s administration at a rate that may even shock Greenpeace. In 2019, Eskom was granted permission to construct a gas-powered power plant in Richards Bay. Environmental organizations South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, Groundwork, and Natural Justice and Green Connection ran to the courts to have the decision set aside. Though the ruling was not in their favor and the judge denied them the right to appeal, the organizations still approached the Supreme Court of Appeal in February 2023 petitioning the court for permission to appeal to it. 

Natural Justice has what it calls a Just Energy Transition Africa Initiative which provides legal assistance to NGOs engaged in opposing new fossil fuel development and power generation in courts while advancing regulatory reforms. International lawyer Harry Jonas, now the World Wildlife Fund senior director for conservation areas, founded Nature Justice in 2007 in Cape Town. Kabir Bavikatte, now the organizational development director for Growald Climate Fund, was Nature Justice’s co-founder. Some of his work previously included advising the South African and other African governments on molding environmental laws. The Growald Climate Fund is part of a group of organizations named the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet who support South Africa’s Just Energy Transition. Nature Justice is supported and funded by such organizations as the Open Society Foundation, American Jewish World Service, SwedBio, The Christensen Fund, the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Green Political Foundation and others. 

Meanwhile, South Durban Community Environmental Alliance uses its energy and climate change campaign to lobby against fossil energy development and challenge any developments in courts. SDCEA is a partner of CLIMA Fund which gets its funding from billionaire philanthropists and family foundations mostly from the USA. Groundwork is a climate and energy justice organization deeply embedded in anti-coal activism. Some of its partners include Friends of Earth International, Earthlife Africa, and more. In 2013, together with Earth Life Johannesburg and Centre for Environmental Rights, the organization launched a campaign targeting Eskom. The organization pursues its goal through mobilization against coal energy and litigation against any government and independent coal energy developments. 

Bobby Peek is the founding director of Groundwork and was appointed by Cyril Ramaphosa into his Presidential Climate Commission which oversees the Just Energy Transition process. He also sits on the board of Global Green Grants Fund. The Presidential Climate Commission recently applauded the country’s rolling blackout for assisting the country in reaching its climate goals. Green Connection is a member of the Climate Justice Coalition which is made up of myriad of other NGOs whose mandate is to ensure that Eskom transitions away from coal energy. In addition, they seek to the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources and remove Minister Gwede Mantashe. 

Earthlife Africa is running a campaign which seeks to prevent the development of new coal-fired power plants, mines associated with coal infrastructure, and decommission existing coal power plants. The organization also runs a campaign which opposes the procurement and development of nuclear energy power. The government, Eskom, and the courts are the target of this campaign which seeks to ensure that South Africa never gets to enjoy the benefits of nuclear energy baseload powered light, but rather wallow in the comfort of darkness supplied from climate goals. 

In 2017, Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute challenged the government’s awarding of a contract to Russia’s energy company Rosatom for the construction of eight nuclear reactors. The two organizations won the case in a ruling that shelved any chances of the country making advancements in energy security and economic growth. For their efforts, the organizations became the proud recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize which was founded by American billionaire Richard Goldman and his wife Rhoda. 

There’s growing evidence pointing to South Africa’s energy crisis being an engineered phenomenon. However, the country has a massive pool of engineering and business management expertise which can get the country out of the woods. Former CEO Brian Molefe and Generation executive Matshela Koko have delivered light to South Africans during their tenure, but the new dawn of darkness removed them to satisfy environmental organizations. The country is stuck with a President whose Climate Commission lauds power blackouts as necessary climate goal catalysts. 

South Africa has enough funds to maintain existing coal power plants, but the former CEO Andre De Ruyter chose to invest in self-preservation books whose printouts serve as an environmental disaster more than coal energy generation. The same environmental organizations campaigning against South Africa’s energy security do not seem to have issues with coal being exported abroad by multinationals for further burning in European and Asian coal power plants. The country finds itself in a chokepoint of colonial needs disguised as environmental concerns, and national security and economic prosperity that can be delivered through coal whose reserves far exceed surplus. 

On any scale imaginable, the damage caused to the environment and human populations by renewable energies like solar and wind is worse if one considers the total cost of ownership, supply chain, and disposal. The anti-coal and nuclear campaigns waged by environmental organizations are commercial in nature and have little do with real non-profit environmental concerns. South Africans have a duty to rise against this financed tide of darkness before the entire electricity grid collapses.

Gugulethu Hughes


Gugulethu Hughes is the ScoonTV Africa correspondent

Tags: , , , ,
Previous Post
A.I. is coming for fast food workers’ jobs. It’s about time.
Next Post
Despite Western criticism, Chinese influence adds value to Uganda

Related Articles

Tags: , , , ,