By Gilbert Moela
A public hearing by the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy on the Electricity Regulations Amendment Bill drew criticism Tuesday morning, 26th September 2033, morning as opponents say their testimonies were rejected and several members of the public were systematically blocked from attending in person.
Walking down the streets across the Malamulele Community Hall members of the community were roaming the streets with no knowledge of what was happening right behind their backyard. Some members of the community criticized the bi-partisan portfolio committee , saying members by not sending out notices and invites to everyone systematically blocked public comment from critics.
We can’t just pick few winning solution out of the Electricity Amendment Bill and tell people that this is what they’ve got to take in their own communities,” One community member said. That’s not the way it works. Open debate means we talk about all the options.”
“Despite my reservations, I placed my trust in the chair of this Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy that we would have an open debate that would provide a space for the voices of environmental justice communities so that they could speak truth to power. That trust has been lost and it will take much to regain it,” another community member said.
“This committee and that process is deceptive,” Gudani said. “It reeks of systemic exclusion when you lock out a community that you know will be affected and impacted. And we’re not allowed to speak? So our motto is: No decisions about us without us. When you hide things and you inherently do things the wrong way without consideration for people, that is never a good sign. That is never a good thing.”
Nevertheless, he said citizens will remain engaged whether or not they are included in the public hearing process.
“We don’t quit. You can’t buy us and we don’t back down. Whatever they told you about us, if you want to bring this flawed process to communities, you better put your boots on. Because we’re going to fight you with everything and don’t think we’re alone,” Gudani said. He asked that the task force give residents and concerned community members equal footing in the process.
We aim to continuously organise communities across the country to oppose this bill for this reason. Furthermore, we have read and noted that this bill, amongst other things, seeks to drive the privatisation of electricity supply in South Africa. Electricity is a basic needs, and we have been the impact privatisation has had on basic needs with the privatisation of water in Johannesburg. Privatisation is a neo-liberal concept that prioritised profit before people.
About 30 people signed up to speak during the public hearing; 22 were opposed to the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill and calls for the withdrawal of the entire bill and eight were in favor. The public comments lasted for 5 hours with majority participants on the raising and clapping hands for those opposing the bill.Get Outlook for Android