Honourable Chairperson and Honourable Members

Electricity is a fundamental factor in a wide range of socio-economic matters; it is the lifeblood of an economically and socially active community.

Reliable electricity has the potential to significantly improve the quality of life of the poor, in particular, those in rural areas.

We need to make it a priority to promote and incorporate all viable options for electricity generation. We must aim to ensure that every household has access to reliable electricity.

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) calls on Government that, in rolling out solar and wind energy, we should give priority to rural communities and this programme should be conducted speedily.

So far, what we have noticed that electrification does not reach to the deep rural areas in particular the Eastern Cape. An example, is wards 18 and 28 in the Mbhashe Municipality, Eastern Cape. Even after citizens took to the streets, and were promised intervention, to date, no electricity has been delivered in these areas and there is no acceptable explanation.

We must agree, across the political spectrum that rural poverty constitutes a national crisis and is a grave injustice. Whilst there may be no silver bullet for the desperate conditions facing millions of the rural poor, the growing need for affordable energy has the potential to contribute to the rural socio-economic development.

The wind energy provides a cheap reliable and mature source of energy and economic development; and is an integral part of South Africa’s energy mix.

Lastly, and whilst it may not directly fall under your portfolio, Honourable Ministers, it is UDM’s firm position that the leadership problems at Eskom needs to fixed.

Political interference needs to stop and stop now. We need a functional Eskom so that the Country’s electricity challenges can be addressed without compromise.

The UDM supports the policy debate on Budget Vote 26.

I thank you

Address by Mr LB Gaehler, MP and UDM Eastern Cape Representative in the National Council of Provinces