When a fire burns, it rains and the earth gets wet - Tina Joemat-Petterson

Transcript of Minister of Energy's address during SOPA debate, 17 February 2016

Speech by the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson in the debate on the President’s State of the Nation Address, Parliament, 17 February 2016

The MINISTER OF ENERGY: Madam Speaker, His Excellency President Zuma, hon Deputy President, Ministers, Deputy Ministers, hon members, fellow South Africans, South Africa is in a better position today than it was in the past; tomorrow will indeed be better than yesterday. All of this depends on the quality of our investment today. The challenge we face is to respond adequately to create a South Africa that is on a sustainable growth path for the benefit of all our citizens, and not just a few.

The National Development Plan, which is part of your legacy, hon President, which is your legacy, envisages that by 2030 South Africa will have an energy sector that promotes economic growth and development through adequate investment in energy infrastructure. Energy security is at the core of current and future industrial and technological advancement.

We have to be honest and acknowledge that we have had challenges with electricity supply. However, today it has been over six months since we last had load shedding. This is as a result of the interventions we have made as well as the positive response of South Africans to use electricity sparingly. But we cannot be complacent. The situation remains very tight and we must continue using electricity carefully.

Our communities are also demanding adequate access to service, including the continuous supply of electricity. We see protests in our communities almost daily. But we have been listening to their concerns and demands. We have invested time and effort and we are now getting results.

Constrained electricity supply has had a significant effect on the economy and the potential for new investment. We know that investors do not like uncertainty. We have been able to provide this certainty with our Independent Power Producer Programme. The Independent Power Producer Programme, hon President, is your legacy. It was started by you, hon President. The very same dishonourable Mmusi Maimane has complimented you on your legacy project – the Independent Power Producer Programme. Say thank you for the compliment.

Hon members, since 2011, our turnaround plan, our new sense of urgency, our country has been offering an attractive market for both local and foreign private sector investment in renewable energy. This has resulted in South Africa being ranked consistently as one of the global leaders in renewable energy. This is a turnaround plan. [Applause.] We are a sought after for investments in renewable energy.

The day before yesterday, hon Deputy President, the Japanese investors were lining up, not to see your beautiful smile or smell your cologne [Laughter], sorry for that, but to invest in renewable energy. [Applause.] Sorry to burst your bubble, they were running after me and not after you. [Applause.] They want to invest.

The economic policy, which you have developed, hon President, is succeeding in the renewable energy space. This programme, hon member, attracted in your province, more than R100 billion in foreign direct investments. [Applause.] Your Western Cape Province has to thank our President for your investment in your province. South Africa belongs to all who live in it; even the Western Cape will remain part of South Africa. [Applause.]

Hon members, policy certainty will bring a further R53 billion in only three projects in the foreseeable three months. The annual competitive bidding process, policy certainty, effective leveraged rapid global technologically sound process which is the Independent Power Producer, IPP, office - why are you so in love with this office? Because it is an ANC government-led office. The only office you happen to be in love with. It is generating investment and you simply cannot imagine that a historically disadvantaged government can be successful in renewable energy. [Applause.]

By end of 2015 we had achieved several major milestones through this project. Let me take you through these milestones. We increased renewable energy capacity to more than 2000 megawatts and now have 40 operational renewable energy plants in some of the poorest areas of our country. Areas which historically you have neglected and unfortunately you cannot wipe away the past; not even God can erase your past. [Applause.]

Those solar plants in the Northern Cape have you to thank, hon President. It is your legacy. The Square Kilometre Array has you to thank, hon President. It is your legacy. The new university in the Northern Cape, the Sol Plaatjie University, one of the first of two new universities in our democracy, is your legacy, hon President. [Applause.] The people of the Northern Cape, I am one of them, are eternally grateful for your legacy. [Interjections.]

We are from the Northern Cape and we know that on 10 March, the largest solar farm in the Southern Hemisphere, Middle East and Africa, will be launched in De Aar. It is a success story and you are invited. It will not be opened by some fictitious dream catcher. [Laughter] Over the next two weeks, the solar farm will generate 175 megawatts of electricity. This will be on 10 March and less than a week later on 14 March R5 billion investment has gone into a thermal and storage solar plant and it will also be launched in the Northern Cape at Bokpoort.


Ek werk huis toe. [I am working my way home.]


Hon members, you are invited to these events.

Over the next three years all of the 102 renewable energy projects ...

Ms D CARTER: Hon Speaker, is the Minister prepared to take a question? [Interjections.]

The SPEAKER: Are you prepared to take a question, Minister?


Ms D CARTER: I just want to make sure that we don’t have to pay for the invitations!

The SPEAKER: She is not prepared to take a question. Proceed, hon Minister.

The MINISTER OF ENERGY: Thank you, hon Speaker. We will offer electricity capacity of 6 gigawatts of renewable energy, which will be solar and wind to our grid. This will contribute around 12% of the installed base load capacity for South Africa. All of this will be done in eight years. Why? Because the renewable energy programme has been on time, within budget and attracted even South African banks. The very investors that you are saying are running away, we have attracted local investors. Your friends, your partners are our partners. Thank you very much. [Applause.]

Madame Speaker, this is achievement is an achievement we can all be proud. Until now, we were offsetting up to 20% of our emissions through this programme. Through small programmes, we will increase investments to R255 billion in bid window 4.

In the next quarter, we will announce the preferred bidders for the first tranche of the allocated 2 500 megawatts of the coal component of the Independent Power Producer Programme. These first coal projects will be coal-fire power plants built by the private sector in partnership with the state. So, why are you crying about the lack of involvement from the private sector? Now, which planet are you living on? [Laughter.] These first coal projects are likely to be located in Limpopo and Mpumalanga and are expected to be connected to the grid by 2021-22 on time in budget because private sector will make sure that it is on time and budgeted for. Who told you that private sector does not want to invest? It is anticipated that this investment, only in coal, hon Deputy President, and we are certainly not thumb sucking, will conservatively get a R45 billion kind of investment in a new coal-fired power plant, and two will be built.

As we continue with your awaited gas power plants, we have already issued a request for information and the request for proposals will be issued on time. The gas-to-power programme will be R64 billion over the next four to five years and will be on time. The Department of Energy will launch this gas-to-power to generate this as an opportunity for the private sector. Please don’t call me; I will call you on the gas. [Laughter.] [Applause.]

Due to the size and complexity of the investment and the value of the programme, we have decided to be very careful and have a two-phased approach. We are planning to prequalify a consortium of bidders. This will be honest, open and transparent - everything you like, all those words, including cost-effective and affordabile. Don’t worry, electricity planning will emphasise the importance of an appropriate and efficient energy mix.

You have all come to listen to what I have to say about nuclear. We have to go the nuclear route because we do not have sufficient fresh water. There is a brilliant young man, James Brent-Styan, who wrote a book. Read it. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he absolutely correctly quotes that Koeberg uses 22 billion litres of seawater. Koeberg does not use fresh water and it recycles water - 22 billion litres of seawater. Nuclear energy also contributes to desalination. We are going to need it.

Medupi power station will use 17 billion litres of fresh water a year, which we will all be looking for, because this drought is not going to stop tomorrow. We are going to need fresh water. Our future generations will be without water. We will threaten food security. Unfortunately, renewable energy will never give us the base load that we require for industrialisation and to grow jobs. If we want the jobs, jobs, jobs, which you say we are not growing, watch this space; we are going to need base load. [Applause.]

The best nuclear energy plant running in the world happens to be in the Western Cape. If we close down Koeberg power station, more than 80% of Cape Town will be dark. I will consider doing it for just one day; Cape Town will be very dark. [Laughter.] [Applause.] We will continue building on the success story of Koeberg because it has of the best nuclear physicists and scientists. Thank you to the hon member, the Minister of Science and Technology.

Your legacy, hon President, is Ministers, women in the economic sector and in significant portfolios. For the first time, you know, we do not have women as Ministers of this little planet and that little planet. [Laughter.] Women are running the energy sector. Women are in your Cabinet. [Applause.] This is your legacy. It might surprise you even further that in the Western Cape, there is a huge difference between the Western Cape and the Northern Cape. In the Northern Cape, the so-called coloureds, we talk about you from head to toe and when we get to your middle, we hit below the belt. So, you want to get me. [Laughter.] [Applause.] But the good thing about the so-called coloured people in the Northern Cape is that they know, they are not “bruin mense” [brown people].

Hon Maimane, how many people from Mitchells Plain are in your advisory council or in your shadow cabinet? [Interjections.] How many people from Khayelitsha are in your shadow cabinet? We will increase our concentration on growing ... no, I am asking about your honourable Cabinet. We will not descend into gutter politics. [Interjections.] In the 80s we called this gutter politics, but where were you? [Laughter.] [Applause.]


Waar was jy? [Gelag.] [Applous.]


Now, gutter politics - we were told – you know, I went to what you call the “bush college”, I come from Coloured Affairs. It is not racist, it’s the past and not even God can remove that past. If I cannot go and pretend that I come from Gauteng. I come from Vosburg. I attended a bush college, but we were told that just because you come from an impoverished background, it doesn’t mean and it didn’t mean that your thoughts had to be impoverished. That’s what we were taught. [Applause.]

I brought school learners, and I bring them regularly to this esteemed House. Hon Malema, I wish he were here now, and I hope you tell him, he is a very popular person. All these learners want to know where he sits, they want to take pictures with him, and they love him. I try to understand why whenever this group of school children come here - even six-year-olds - they take pictures and shout “Julius”! I thought they liked his overall, no. This one six-year-old learner told me that this is a hooligan who manages to be called honourable. [Laughter.]

This is a six-year-old learner, please, hon members, these are not my words but those of a six-year-old learner. [Laughter.] This learner says if you behave like that, you will be taken to the school principal and he beats you well. If you dare tell your parents, the school principal will beat your parents too. [Laughter.] If you behave like that at home, even your mother will beat you. We will never be allowed to behave like that. This six-year-old tells me that this they call him a juvenile delinquent. [Laughter.] He is very popular. We all went to school and had teachers.

At school, a naughty boy attracts others and we call them a “wannabe”, hey? In the Northern Cape, do you know what we call a juvenile delinquent? Someone who moved from ignorance to decadence, without passing through civilisation. [Laughter.] You have missed a phase in your life without passing through civilisation. Other copycats, those who will be drawn in by a juvenile delinquent. Don’t compete with a juvenile delinquent, please, we will call you copycats. When you are a copycat, leave the juvenile delinquent, the copycat becomes like that drunk uncle who attends family gatherings. [Laughter.]

In the Northern Cape we say this drunk uncle, drank his cheap wine — nap-shushu, sallie haalie, Namaqua Daisy — and when he gets to your party he tells you that your wine is not good enough. Now how do you have the temerity to tell this hon President that his wine is not good enough? You are drunk, like that uncle at family gatherings who has already had his sallie haalie. [Laughter.]

In conclusion, hon President, I don’t know where those cows are that I gave you, because they said I paid R400 million for your cows. I am still waiting to see where they are. When a cow gives birth to a fire, that cow will lick that fire. You know why? When a mother gives birth to a fire, she will lick that fire because she gave birth to that fire.

When a fire burns, it rains and the earth gets wet. Fire burns, but when it rains the earth gets wet. Hon Malema, you gave birth to a fire yesterday and you will not be able to stop this fire. Hon Malema, do not teach your mother how to bear children. You can never be a mother, so you will never stop the fire. You will never be a mother and you will never be able to give birth to anything. [Interjections.]

Hon Maimane, do not join a young man who will be angry for the rest of his life because of a mother body. The mother body will continue long after Julius Malema. [Applause.]

Source: Unrevised transcript, Hansard