In South Africa, a small opposition party says it’s going to bring a motion of no confidence against President Thabo Mbeki and his cabinet. The Independent Democrats Party says the Mbeki administration has failed to prevent major power shortages, which it says will have severe consequences for the economy.
VOA reporter Delia Robertson is following the story. From Johannesburg, she spoke to English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about the significance of the no confidence motion.
“I suppose it depends whether the motion actually sees the light of day in parliament. Because in order to get on the order paper it would have to have the support of more members than what the party has in parliament and a majority of members. And in fact it is unlikely to achieve that, unless of course Mr. Mbeki’s opponents in the African National Congress decide to get on this bandwagon, but I doubt it will happen,” she says.
South Africa has never been considered a country that would have power problems like those of so many other countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Robertson says, “It’s a political issue because it’s had such an enormous impact on the country. South Africa has never experienced power outages to the extent it has in recent weeks. While there are several reasons for this, it has got the population completely up in arms. And so it’s a good opportunity for opposition parties to be able to use it as a bat with which to hit the government over the head.”
Patricia de Lille, head of the Independent Democrats, says, “The failure to plan, despite documented warnings almost 10 years ago, to avert a national electricity crisis, has already cost our country billions of rands in lost production and tax revenue, which threatens the job security and livelihoods of millions of South Africans.”
Reporter Robertson says, “It is a very, very serious matter. And in fact President Mbeki admitted that they felt at the time that the power utility (that) was making these recommendations that the recommendations might have been somewhat exaggerated or the situation exaggerated. And for that he has taken responsibility and has apologized. In terms of the economy, economists are saying that the projected growth for South Africa of around six percent will not be achieved in the current climate of poor electricity supply.”
Economists say four percent is now a more realistic growth rate figure.