Students of South African history will remember that while the military activities of the ANC and Pan Africanist Congress, solidarity marches of the United Democratic Front and no-confidence motions of Helen Suzman and other precursors to the DA all played their part in ending apartheid, it was the financial boycott by the international banks that was the final nail in the separate-development coffin.
Today the banks, local and international, should issue a warning to Eskom that they will boycott future bond issues should the utility commence the tainted nuclear-procurement process. Business Day readers should pressure their banks and pension funds to boycott Eskom bond issues and publish their interactions with these financial institutions on social media with the hashtag #NoNuclearSA so they are all in the public domain.
In the Australian state of Queensland solar panels on business and home rooftops together have greater generating capacity than the state’s largest coal-fired power station. In SA, provinces and cities run by opposition parties should accelerate the installation of rooftop solar, with surplus power purchased at, say, 80% of Eskom’s wholesale tariff. This might be another financial loss for Eskom but it will be a win for consumers, rich and poor, for the municipalities and even for redundant coal miners, given clean work installing panels.
South African universities can play their part by removing nuclear engineering studies from their curricula and replacing them with studies in renewable energy. Student activists should ensure this change takes place.
The universities, media and opposition should drive a co-ordinated education process so that South Africans can choose the renewable energy options that are most cost effective for each home and business. And the leaders of the opposition parties need to be absolutely clear that should they come to power in 2019 they will immediately cancel any nuclear build project. There should be no cancellation penalty when corruption is involved.