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SoNA: The land and power conundrum

By Staff Writer
After last night's antics with the State of the Nation Address (SoNA), many might have focused more on the disruptions, forceful removals, and whether or not Zuma was going to pay back the money via e-wallet or EFT to pay attention to the actual speech.
 
"At a time when South Africa is in crisis, the constitutional role of Parliament has been severely undermined [yesterday], and the real issues that matter to South Africans have been forgotten," said Mmusi Maimane, deputy federal chairperson of the Democratic Alliance (DA).
 
Thomas Walters, the DA shadow minister of rural development and land reform, added to Maimane's sentiments saying that the ANC has more in common with Russia than many think.
 
"The ANC is increasingly moving in the direction of the type of managed democracy/sham democracy associated with someone such as Vladimir Putin of Russia or the late Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. It uses the legislature to move from populist proposal to populist proposal to maintain a majority," said Walters.
 
But Zuma had some key points to make about the state of our power, and land distributions, and how the country was going to handle both going forward.
 
Leasing land
 
One point which certainly caught people's attention, with Twitter, and YouTube feeds lighting up, was that no more foreigner nationals would be allowed to own land.
 
"Last year, we reopened the second window of opportunity for the lodgement of land claims. More than thirty six thousand land claims have been lodged nationally and the cut-off date is 2019," said Zuma.
 
Zuma went on to explain that in terms of our government's new proposed laws, a ceiling of land ownership will be set at a maximum of 12 000 hectares.
 
When asked why the land would be capped at 12 000 hectares Walters said that he did not know.
"I have no idea what is conjured up in the corridors of ANC policy making and what logic it is based on. A set figure is probably easier to communicate election time, than for their propaganda to delve into the different utility and land values applicable to land in e.g. The Karoo or the Cape Winelands," said Walters.
 
Also, foreign nationals will not be allowed to own land in South Africa but will be eligible for long term lease. However, Zuma did not explain what would happen with foreign nationals who already own land in South Africa.
 
Last month Walters also told Justmoney that all the land reform 'promises' made by Zuma were just "smoke and water".
 
"I think part of it, in my own personal opinion is that Zuma and the ANC need to divert attention away from the increasing problems of corruption, poor service delivery, and quite frankly the unkept promises. So one of the ways of doing that is to ramp up the more radical sounding talk," said Walters.
 
Walters went on to say that the land reforms will discourage investment in South Africa.
 
"It will discourage investment in South Africa because will make investing money in South Africa less attractive by raising the cost of business. It will therefore limit the ability of South Africans to use their property to access overseas funding and skills to grow our economy. It will also negatively impact on land values thus hurting our financial sector," said Walters.
 
Power problems
 
The power problems have been irritating - to say the least - to many people these past few months when load shedding was reintroduced late last year.
 
However, Eskom's unstable power supply is not only frustrating to citizens and businesses; it could also push economic growth to less than 2% this year.
 
After Presidency asked for solutions to the power problem (among many other topics) before SoNA on Twitter, Zuma highlighted in his speech how government would try to solve the power problems the country is facing, as they were "doing everything [they] can to resolve the energy crisis".
 
Zuma said in his speech that Cabinet had created a "War Room" in December and "is working diligently around the clock with Eskom, to stabilize the electricity supply system and contain the load shedding."
 
Adding to that, Zuma said that they have short, medium, and long term plans to get the power under control.
 
"The short and medium term plan involves improved maintenance of Eskom power stations, enhancing the electricity generation capacity and managing the electricity demand. The long term plan involves finalising our long term energy security master plan," said Zuma.
 
The short and medium term plans also involve government giving Eskom R23 billion to help with their financial problems.
 
Renewable energy
 
The construction of the three new power stations Kusile, Medupi and Ingula, will add ten thousand megawatts of capacity to the national grid. The quest for alternative energy sources is also ongoing.
 
To date government has procured 4000 megawatts from Independent Power Producers, using renewable sources.
 
A total of 3900 megawatts of renewable energy has also been sourced, with 32 projects with a capacity of just over 1500 megawatts completed and connected to the grid.
 
Eskom itself has completed the construction of the Sere Wind Farm, which is already delivering 100 megawatts to the grid, well ahead of its intended launch in March this year, highlighted Zuma.
Government also began procurement in December 2014, of 2400 megawatts of new coal fired power generation capacity, from Independent Power Producers.
 
The procurement process for 2400 megawatts of new gas fired generation will commence in the first quarter of the new financial year.
 
A total of 2 600 megawatts of hydro-electric capacity will be sourced from the SADC region.
 
The master plan
 
"With regards to the long term energy master plan, we will pursue gas, petroleum, nuclear, hydropower and other sources as part of the energy mix," said Zuma.
 
Zuma went on to highlight that South Africa is surrounded by gas rich countries, as well as having newly discover shale gas deposits in the Karoo.
 
Along with fracking, the government is also looking in using more oil and gas resources through The Operation Phakisa Ocean Economy initiative.
 
This initiative was launched last year, also "promises to unveil more oil and gas resources, which will be a game changer for our country and region," highlighted Zuma.
 
Adding to that, and to much dismay of the DA, government is also exploring the procurement of the 9,600 megawatts nuclear build programme as approved in the Integrated Resource Plan 2010-2030.
Earlier this year the DA tried to get the secrecy surrounding the nuclear deals legally lifted.
 
"Reports suggest that the President could have already agreed to a nuclear deal with Russia amounting to as much as R1 trillion.
 
"This would be ruinous for South Africa and is obviously unaffordable. The nature of this deal, the motivations for it and the possibility of electricity price increases that come with it, makes all information relating to the deal vitally important," said Lance Greyling, shadow minister of energy.
 
At SoNA last night, it seems that the government has in fact made a deal with Russia, as well as other countries, to implement nuclear power options. However, there was no mention of how much this deal has cost South Africa.
 
"To date government has signed Inter-Governmental Agreements and carried out vendor Parade workshops in which five countries came to present their proposals on nuclear. These include the United States of America, South Korea, Russia, France and China," said Zuma.
 
All these countries will be engaged in a fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner or partners to undertake the nuclear build programme.
 
Walters closing comments were that this type of legislation build the dependency of the poor on the state.
 
"[This is] to keep the poor in electoral bondage to them [the state] (we are picking up the trend and also see it in the new found support for communal land arrangements despite talk of title deeds). They are also willing to use security forces in a politically directed manner as we saw at SONA when all EFF members (even those who were not disruptive) where forcibly ejected and peaceful DA protesters were water cannoned and arrested," said Walters.

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