Cape Town, 7 March 2023 – Today, Greenpeace Africa activists disrupted Minister Gwede Mantashe’s opening address at the Africa Energy Indaba at the Cape Town International Convention Center with banners and messages on bluetooth speakers.

During the Minister’s address, six activists held up banners with the message ‘GWEDE STOP BLOCKING RENEWABLES’ while Bluetooth speakers replayed messages from the South African public expressing their outrage at the government’s inaction on the electricity crisis, until the activists were removed from the venue. The activists took action to protest the continued resistance by Minister Mantashe to fast-track adding new renewable energy to the grid in South Africa, and the continued unprecedented levels of daily load shedding since 31 October 2022. 

“Coal is a dangerous dead-end pushing South Africa to the brink of destruction, yet almost all of South Africa’s electricity comes from an ancient fleet of coal-fired power stations which are literally falling apart, breaking down more quickly than they can be fixed,” said Greenpeace Africa’s Climate and Energy Campaigner, Thandile Chinyavanhu. 

“Fast tracking a shift to renewable energy is clearly the solution, but the biggest blocker in the way of getting us out of the oppressive darkness of the electricity crisis is standing at the podium today. Minister Mantashe is too biased to see the real solutions, and his fossil fuel obsession is literally bringing South Africa to its knees and cannot remain unchallenged. Enough is enough.”

The Minister is ultimately to blame for loadshedding, because he is actively blocking new renewable energy projects and not a single MW of electricity has been connected to the grid during his tenure. Minister Mantashe has either dodged accountability entirely, made vicious public comments about environmental activists, or declared that the fossil fuel industry is under attack, despite the industry announcing record billions in profits in 2022. 

“Minister Mantashe together with the fossil fuel industry are colluding to force South Africans down a devastating and depressing pathway to spiralling rolling blackouts, a jobless economy, catastrophic climate change, and continued toxic air pollution. South Africans deserve so much better than this. A just transition to renewable energy is the best and most immediate solution to South Africa’s energy and unemployment crises,” ended Chinyavanhu.

It is clear to Greenpeace Africa and the rest of civil society that the South African government’s historical dependence on coal, and all of the continued corruption that has come with it, are what have landed South Africa in its current devastating electricity crisis. Greenpeace Africa demands that the South African government fast-tracks a just transition to renewable energy, and that the Minister commits to bringing online 13 650MW of renewable energy by the end of 2023, which will more than compensate for the ongoing risk of higher stages of load shedding, and set us on the right path to achieving a just transition. 


Notes to the Editor 

[1] In 2021, [TARGET] made public comments in which he referred to the ongoing protests against Shell as “apartheid and colonialism of a special type.” 

[2] In 2022, the five largest oil and gas companies in the west made a combined $200billion in profits.

[x] In 2015, South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa stated, “in eighteen months to two years, you will forget the challenges that we had with relation to power and energy and Eksom every happened.” In 2023, Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana stated, “Eventually in the next twelve to eighteen months, we will be able to say load shedding is a thing of the past.”

Contact details 

Greenpeace Africa Press Desk: [email protected] 
Chris Vlavianos, Greenpeace Africa Communications Officer, +27798837036, [email protected]