President Jacob Zuma used his address at the Energy Indaba, taking place in Johannesburg this week, to assure business and investors that the upcoming African National Congress (ANC) elective conference would be “orderly and peaceful”, while promising a “seamless” handover to the new ANC president.
Addressing more than 1 000 energy stakeholders, including business executives, union representatives, government officials and diplomats, Zuma acknowledged the prevailing high levels of anxiety within the business community over the ANC leadership contest, which will culminate in elections at the conference scheduled for Johannesburg between December 16 and 20.
However, he stressed that he, as well as the seven presidential contenders, were committed to ensuring that the ANC emerged from the gathering as a united force, adding that a united ANC was “good for business and the ANC”.
Zuma also stressed how much he was looking forward to the conclusion of his ANC presidential term, quipping that he would arrive at the conference as a president with a “qualification”; that qualification being “outgoing”.
No reference was made in his address, nor the preceding address by Energy Minister David Mahlobo, to the finalisation of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity, which has become a highly controversial and contested plan.
Ahead of the indaba there were fears that the event would be converted into a public consultation for an IRP that included a high proportion of nuclear. However, Mahlobo met with several nongovernmental organisations ahead of the indaba where he indicated that the Energy Indaba was not intended to address the IRP.
Both Zuma and Mahlobo stressed the need for a mix of generation sources, while Zuma called for an energy master plan that ensured that South Africa never again found itself short of electricity.
He also called for accelerated transformation in the ownership and control of businesses in the energy sector, arguing that it should be a catalyst for both growth and “radical economic transformation”.