#PeoplesPower: CJC Holds Electricity Minister Accountable on Energy Crisis

For Immediate Release 4 August 2023

South Africa — Members of the Climate Justice Coalition will protest at a public talk by the Minister of Electricity, Dr Kgosientso Ramokgopa, on Friday, August 4th. The talk is hosted by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in partnership with the Presidential Climate Commission (PCC) and the University of Pretoria. The protest is in response to  concerns among coalition members about the Minister’s plans for electricity.

Coalition members believe that the Minister’s current approach to electricity threatens to lock South Africa into a more polluting, expensive, and privatised future, benefitting only a few at the expense of the majority. Instead, the Climate Justice Coalition is calling for a just transition to a socially-owned, renewable energy-powered future that would provide cleaner, more affordable, and reliable energy for all.

In June, the Climate Justice Coalition secretariat sent an open letter to the Minister’s office, outlining their concerns and proposing alternative solutions. The letter detailed how the Minister’s plans could lead to trillions of rands invested in polluting and harmful projects, such as the powerships project. This would result in less affordable, less reliable, and more polluting energy compared to a renewable energy-powered future using solar, wind, and storage technologies.

Unfortunately, the Climate Justice Coalition has not received any acknowledgment of receipt of their letter nearly two months later. The lack of response raises concerns about the Minister’s office’s lack of accountability to the public. There are no publicly available contact details for the office, leaving citizens with no outlet to hold the Minister accountable. In light of this, the Coalition is resorting to peaceful protests during public appearances as a means of expressing their demands.

Among the Coalition’s concerns is the Minister’s alleged misleading of the public regarding coal retirement plans. He reportedly claimed that the closure of Komati was linked to South Africa’s pursuit of climate finance. However, the Climate Justice Coalition disputes this claim, pointing out that Komati’s closure is aligned with the Department of Mineral Resource and Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan of 2019, which predated the President’s climate finance deal.

The government has failed to replace Komati with sufficient new generation capacity in line with its own plans. Additionally, there has been a lack of investment in a just transition for workers and communities affected by the closure of Komati. Instead of taking responsibility for these failures, Minister Ramokgopa is attempting to shift the blame to others and misleading the public about Komati’s closure.

The Climate Justice Coalition emphasises that these government failures have contributed to deepening energy, economic, and ecological crises. The coalition urges the Minister to prioritise genuine dialogue and consideration of alternative, sustainable energy solutions that benefit the entire nation.

Mbali Baduza, deputy secretary of the CJC, says:

“The Minister’s office is a public office. It is incredulous that there is no way to get ahold of him or his office. Without that transparency and that access, that means it’s an office that represents itself and not the people of South Africa. We challenge the Minister to be bold enough to engage directly with us who are impacted by his decisions and disinformation. ”


Francina Nkosi, founder of Waterberg Women’s Advocacy Organisation, says:

“I wish that our Minister could spend a day with us in  the rural area of Lephalale where we are affected by load shedding and load reduction. We are generating electricity and I think we suffer more than those who don’t generate electricity. Poor working class people lose their appliances due to load shedding, they are throwing out rotten food that they bought to sustain for a month. Who is responsible for their loss? The ministers don’t suffer because they stay in the suburbs where they have solar power and they are safe. What about us?”


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Brandon Abdinor, climate advocacy lawyer at the Centre for Environmental Rights, says:

“The decarbonisation of our energy system, in a manner that does not leave vulnerable workers and communities behind, but in fact improves their lives, is critically important and urgent. This process must be informed by justice, science, energy security and sound economics, and all of these point to a decisive move away from fossil fuels and towards renewables in a manner that provides economic opportunities for people in South Africa. ”


For Media Enquiries, contact:

Shaazia Ebrahim, Climate Justice Coalition


+27 83 320 2255