Interviews

Russia Could Help South Africa Gain ‘Energy Mix’ as Relying on West Equals Recolonization, MP Says

Zolani Mkiva, manager of the Mkiva Foundation, Delegate to the South African National Council of Provinces,ExclusiveAfter attending the 5th Russian Energy Week in Moscow, Zolani Mkiva, manager of the Mkiva Foundation, Delegate to the South African National Council of Provinces, has talked to Sputnik to discuss a wide range of topics: from historic South Africa-Russia relationship to energy woes, new world order, Western pressure and NATO “militarizing society.”Sputnik: Dear Mr Mkiva, thank you for joining us today for the interview! We find ourselves in the interesting time between the two major events in the energy fields: the Russian Energy Week, which you have just attended and the African Energy Week that you are planning to attend later this month. As such, if you do not mind, we will focus on energy issues given your vast experience in this area. Let’s start with the Russian Energy Week, we are in Moscow after all. How did you find it? What projects and topics presented during the conference did you find to be most relevant for South Africa in the energy sphere? And what projects and topics presented during the conference did you find to be the most relevant for South Africa in the energy sphere?Zolani Mkiva: Thank you for having me. And for me, let me start off by saying that the Russian Energy Week is a very well-organized event. 2022 is the fifth edition of this very important international platform, which is hosted by Russia, for the benefit of, first and foremost, Russia, as well as the markets that are linked to Russia in terms of trade and economic relations. Coming here is very strategic because it gives us an opportunity to have meaningful discussions with colleagues from here to compare notes. But at the same time, to find each other on how best we can partner and cooperate. So, the most important things that we had to mainstream here is the fact that as South Africa, we are part and parcel of BRICS. So, platforms like these help us to enrich the policy implementation of things that are agreed at a level of being members of the BRICS family.WorldWhy Russia-Africa Youth Public Forum Promises Rapprochement & Enhanced Cooperation 26 July, 14:42 GMTBut zooming in into the energy sector is to say, how do we begin to tap into each other’s areas of strength? So, Russia has got volumes of the product, which is required for the energy sector, and this relates to oil and gas in particular. But now we have to mitigate the issues of the distance, which impact the logistics as well as the finance pricing part of that. So, this gives us the impetus to look through with a fine comb, pay attention to detail on how best we can mitigate those challenges so that we can achieve our broader strategic objectives of how to benefit. Because we are dealing with issues of energy.

Energy, it's more than just a commodity now. It is a human rights issue because everybody has to have access to energy, most importantly that energy must be a reliable, one. It must be sustainable, two. It must also be accessible from a point of view of pricing so that even ordinary people, the poorest of the poor, can access electricity because you can't make electricity an issue of only those who can afford it.

It should cut across that a woman who sits somewhere in the margins of society must have access to that energy because it relates to the sustainability of the family, and family being the basic structure of any given society. So, we can’t just look at it as an issue of making money. It’s not. It is an issue which is a means of creating and enabling environment for every economy to work. So the centrality of energy in economy and the performance of the economy is very key. So, we are here to strengthen those things, to say, let us not be self-centered when we look into these issues. Let’s see how we plug in for mutual benefit. So, those who have the product and those who consume the product ought to be part of the conversation. It’s not a question of saying “if you have it, you dictate terms because we consume it.” It’s like a doctor and a patient relationship. There has to be a conversation there. So, Russia is very strategic with us, not only as South Africa, but broadly as Africans, because we have a history together and a positive history of good friendship relationships.So how do we then begin to translate the relationship which we had with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics into the Russian Federation? Because the Russian government inherited that relationship, because it has always played a central feature of the USSR. So, we are saying we have come here to converse with our friends, with our brothers, and I often say as a person who also writes as an author, that in your bloodline we see the signature of Alexander Pushkin, one of your own, one of our own. And this is just to underline a very important feature that we are not connected only by history, but we’re also connected by culture. So systematically, therefore, we don’t have a choice but to work together for all intents and purposes. AfricaSouth Africa’s Eskom to Implement Rotational Power Cuts Due to Generation Capacity Shortage14 September, 19:00 GMTTherefore, we see the energy week as an instrument which helps us to navigate, but also to negotiate social cohesion on how we become closer to each other, on how we must work together for the benefit of our people in a manner that is sustainable, in a manner that sees the future. So, we mustn’t think only for the next ten years. We must think about the year 3000 as to where we should be. This is a kind of visionary leadership that is required. And I was happy that the president of Russia, His Excellency President Vladimir Putin, put it clearly that this is a very important instrument not only, you know, in a very broader perspective on how the friends of Russia can cooperate around energy issues, strengthen the ties, but pay attention to detail on how we bring in efficiency and effectively, which becomes a win-win situation for all the progressive nations of the world.Sputnik: Speaking more broadly, in what ways can Russia assist in alleviating South Africa’s energy concerns? Specifically, how can Russia help to implement President Ramaphosa’s action plan to combat energy issues?Zolani Mkiva: Russia must take a view that South Africa and Africa is a friend of Russia and we have trust surplus. So, if for a long period of time Russia has been putting its investments, for instance, into the West, I think time has come because the West is treating Russia in a manner which is a little bit unfair. So, their trust deficit between Russia and Western Europe, which is informed by a number of issues, that’s a reality. And you can trust us because we have a long history together. So, we want to, therefore, make an appeal and a humble plea to say, I think perhaps it’s time to diversify your investments by looking into us and ensuring that you invest in infrastructure projects. So that in a country like South Africa, you can help us to put together refineries. So that this speaks to what I’m talking about: about sustainability, about affordability, and also about profitability at the end of the day, because in order to sustain, you need to reach that point of sustainability. So, we have challenges now in South Africa where we are having load shedding, blackouts, etc. And that is informed by the fact that we rely solely on coal. So, we want energy mix. Russia must help us to invest in nuclear so that we don’t have overreliance only on the coal deposits. We must now build an infrastructure which is going to be more solid and more reliable and more, you know, in terms of building the right capacity to produce and generate so that we are able to distribute for everybody. So nuclear is going to help us insofar as that, but it requires big pockets. It requires big pockets.

So, Russia being a major player in BRICS, but also in the international arena, must come in Africa. It must be in the forefront. We can't rely on the West because the West represent those who once colonized us. And for them, they want to maintain that trajectory of colonization so that we only remain consumers and not the players.

I want to partner with Russia insofar as that is concerned on nuclear, but secondly, on the energy renewables. We want renewable energy as part of the energy mix that is required. So, we don’t want to go to the IMF and the World Bank to borrow money because that will be tantamount to recolonization. We will forever be doomed in that way. We will never find ourselves raising our head again. So, Russia must help us to mitigate those issues and ensure that we get [not only] the right type of financing but the right type of infrastructural investment, which is going to help us with the sustainable and affordable energy.Sputnik: And what about the African Energy Week, which is scheduled for later this month? Can you perhaps give us a preview for what is being planned over there? Do you expect some important energy deals to be concluded over the course of this week?Zolani Mkiva: The Africa Energy Week is another important addition in the bigger scheme of things. It is an instrument which we don’t want it to be looked at only as a talk show event. To us, it’s a platform where concrete decisions must be taken through deals and commercial agreements, which must translate to us mitigating all the challenges that we have. Getting solutions, including African solutions to the African challenge of energy poverty. We sit with energy poverty. A country like South Africa through its electricity utility Eskom, we do not only distribute electricity for the consumption of the local market of the sovereign state of South Africa, but we help the neighboring states like Lesotho, Eswatini, Namibia, and even Zambia and Zimbabwe. AfricaSouth African Energy Provider ESKOM Resumes Rolling Blackouts Amid Ongoing Power Crisis10 October, 11:15 GMTAnd therefore, when that conversation takes place, it must help us on how we can build an infrastructure and ensure that the maintenance of Eskom, this electricity utility, improves. But also, how we move to bring in again the energy mix, attract the necessary investments, particularly from people who are not going to blackmail us. We want investments which are genuine. We want investments which are mutually respecting the partners that get involved. We don’t want deals that are going to take us backwards. We want deals that are going to move us forward, to ensure that we solve our biggest challenge of energy. Because the issues that are related to energy poverty affect the entire economy value chain. You are unable to perform efficiently in the mining sector. You are unable to perform effectively in the agricultural sector because energy plays an overarching role in any given economy, as I am saying. Therefore, the Energy Week in Africa, we have great expectations because we sit with the great challenges. And when you sit with great challenges, then you make plans so that when you do attract your invitees, you invite the right people who are going to provide a solution for you when you do sit at the table. So, we expect the participation of the major Russian outfits. We have invited all the majors here. AfricaIs Washington Against Africa & EU Benefitting From Long-Term Gas Projects?21 September, 11:21 GMTI think the top four are invited to be there, both from the point of view of the public sector and the private sector. We also expect the government leaders to be there because business must work together with government as well as civil society is very important because when you’re talking about major project, they need political support, especially infrastructural investment, so that there are no issues. So, we have an expectation. It’s a very important edition of the Africa Energy Week, because it comes at a time when we are confronted by major issues insofar as energy, the load shedding, the blackouts, as well as the fuel, the oil. For the first time, we have issues of challenges of jet fuel where certain flights had to be canceled altogether. We have problems of fuel for motor vehicles. So, we need to use this opportunity to deal with that situation once and for all. We don’t want to see that happening in an economy like ours. We are one of the biggest economies in the continent and we are a springboard to the entire African landscape. So, if anything happens in South Africa, it does not only affect the citizens of South Africa in the neighboring states, it affects the whole continent from Cape to Cairo.Sputnik: Vladimir Putin and other foreign leaders say that a new world order is emerging. How do you see this new world? What role can Africa play?Zolani Mkiva: It’s a Catch-22 situation, the way I see it. But it presents new opportunities. It presents new rethinking, repositioning, and re-planning and replenishing, as well as reprioritization on how we engage. I think the progressive countries must begin to get closer to each other and prioritize each other and look at each other’s strengths and capitalize on those strengths on how we build, for instance, through this. The multipolar world will help us to realize the situation we’re in. We must have an alternative international finance system. President Putin is leading from the front insofar as that. He has already brought in China to say, “let’s work on this model”. Already that is going to help us to have a new currency internationally, which we may base all other transactions on instead of a single currency that has dominated us and actually manipulated the international finance system for too long. So, the multipolar system will help us to ensure that now we can begin to think freely, to think out of the box and come up with creative ways of transactions that are going to help ordinary people. Because at the end of the day, the single international finance system, which has been relying on the dollar for a long time has created major poverty in the world. Because what it does, it makes the rich the richest. And it leaves a big gap for the poor to remain the poorest. WorldBRICS Countries Discussing Creation of Single Currency, Russian Ambassador Says29 September, 11:24 GMTBut when President Putin puts, you know, some works in the game, it helps us to begin to tilt the balance of forces in favor of the majority of the people on the planet Earth. We will gain in the long term insofar as what he is trying to do. Because that balance has always been needed in order to circumvent the issue of the haves, always being those that are getting at the end of the day, at the expense of the poorest, of the poor. So, I think the multipolar world will help us with things like that to strike a balance between humanity and profit and so on and so forth. I see it at that level.Sputnik: What about BRICS? What will be the place for BRICS in the multipolar world, given that we already see that other countries would like to join this fromat? How do you see it?Zolani Mkiva: Look. If you look into the population of the world, we are sitting with about eight and a half to nine billion people on the planet now. Right? China accounts for almost 1.6 billion people. Africa accounts for almost 1.3 billion people. India accounts for almost 1.2 billion people. Russia accounts for almost 400 million people. Itself and its neighbors. Right? That you already have more than half of the planet Earth. So, it goes without saying with me that BRICS needs to be extended to the entire African continent. So, if Africa, Russia, India, China, and Brazil come together, then we seal it. And once we have instruments of governance, instruments of finance, like the BRICS Development Bank, which has been established and we upscale it and we make it work and work for purpose, position it right so that it can serve and service our people across the BRICS family. Then that is going to do wonders. So, BRICS has a future. It must continue. It must not be done away with because it is one thing that is beginning to give hope to the majority of the people which I’ve already placed on record that are represented by the BRICS family. I think it needs to be enriched in terms of its policy, its programs, so that it can do wonders for the people. It should not be piecemeal, and I think it must be formalized and be institutionalized to the extent that all the institutions and the instruments that are created, are not only dealing with matters when there are periodic addition meetings that are held year on year. There must be a situation where we come to the fulltime purpose of BRICS so that its impetus, that it is expected to play, can be felt by the masses of our people on a day and night basis. That’s how I see it. So, there’s a future for BRICS. Definitely! It is what is giving hope to people, and it should be what gives confidence to the governments of these entities to the extent that it must come up with a wall-to-wall policy, that its existence must have an impact on policy perspective of each and every sector of the economy and society. WorldDonbass Referenda Call For New World Order, BRICS International Forum President Says28 September, 09:57 GMTThat’s how I see it. I’m very optimistic about BRICS and the role that it must play. So, it must also go beyond “governmental” relations. It must translate to people-to-people relations. Because if it does not do that, it becomes an ivory tower that cannot be felt by ordinary people. When things are conceived by leaders with a vision, the leaders that we have at the BRICS level, let’s translate them to simple terminology, to simple policy communiqués, which are to be understood by all our people. That’s what it must do. It must translate to issues of visa, for instance. It must translate to all those finer details as to how do we deal with all of those issues. It must translate to education. How do we begin to relook into the education which is so much dominated by a history of imperialism and colonization? How do we liberate the syllabuses of the countries so that people have an understanding of the historic relations that are there so that they manifest in the subject matter of what we do?How does it manifest as well in terms of the relevance of the subject that we teach to the young people of our country so that we make them to be fit for purpose for our economies? We must do all of those things. So, there must be a system in place to ensure that we are all aligned, we are all converged. And that alignment and that convergence must not end at leadership level, at government level, at official level. It must go down into the ordinary man on the street, into the people in villages, into the people in our communities. And that is what will make BRICS a game changer. It is a game changer already. But we must complete the cycle, the whole value chain. We must see the value added as having positive impact to our people, as improving on daily basis and bettering the lives of our people, bettering the performance of our government, bettering everything that we touch through BRICS.Sputnik: We see that Western countries urge Africa to condemn Russia, to join the sanctions against Russia right now. Does their policy of constant pressure remind you of a new form of colonialism?Zolani Mkiva: Yes. It’s bullying tactics, pure bullying tactics. If you say on the one hand that you respect the sovereignty of A country, then you can’t say as a different country that do this, do this, do that, because you don’t like what is done by country A. So, it’s totally out of order and it must be rejected with the scorn that it deserves. Russia is a sovereign nation, a sovereign country, and the people of this country have elected a leadership of their choice and a government of their choice. And they are happy with what the government does to defend their national interests, the interests of its own people. And therefore, it goes without saying that it is totally unacceptable, and it is a colonial mentality and an imperial thinking to say to small countries that they must gang up against Russia simply because Russia has taken a view to defend its own territory. Look, if A is equal to B and A is also equal to C, that does not make C equal to B automatically. In other words, the enemy of your enemy doesn’t have to be his enemy. It doesn’t go [that way]. We are not fishing for enemies. We want to make friends in the world. And Nelson Mandela made it clear that when we fought for our liberation and our democracy as Africa, there were those who chose to be friends with us and supported our cause for our liberation. Now, when we got our liberation, the bullies again came around and told us that we can’t relate to the people who actually supported our cause. And those who never supported our cause, you know, can’t tell us… They can’t tell us to choose our friends. We know our friends and we know why they are our friends. So, Russia stood on our side when we fought for our liberation, the USSR as a whole. So, the Americans were not there administratively, it was the people, ordinary people in America through their formations, who supported our struggle. So, we can’t just turn away from Russia just like that. For what? For what good reason? Look, if you were to ask me the relevance of NATO today in the world, I would tell you straight that it is an instrument of cordiality which should not be existing in this day and age. NATO is not a progressive organization. It is an organization which is actually threatening the stability of the world because it’s a military formation. It is militarizing society. We don’t want the militarization of society because you are implanting violence in the hearts and the minds of the people. As if militarism is a solution to challenges of the world. NATO is not there to defend humanity. If NATO was an instrument which is progressive, it should have been approved by the United Nations. Actually, the nations of the world must come up with a resolution in the United Nations to actually do away with NATO, because it is an instrument of what is glaring, that it represents regressiveness, it represents destructiveness. Why in the world do we have countries that are busy establishing military bases beyond their areas of sovereignty? It should not be allowed. Keep your army within your borders! Keep your defense within your area of sovereignty. Why are you all over the show? What are you trying to do without being invited? If South Africa invites the defense of Russia to strengthen its own training, its own exercises, that’s fine. But Russia is here. Russia is not busy building bases all over the place. It knows its place. So, I am saying that the people who are members of NATO must rethink that thing. That thing is no longer relevant in this day and age. It was founded after the World War II. There’s no need for it now. Let’s demilitarize the world. AfricaRussia Plays Key Role in Africa’s Military & Economic Stability: South Africa’s Defense Minister16 August, 15:02 GMTThose who are out there in spaces which are sovereign spaces of other countries must withdraw from that and go back and firm up in their own bases at home. Stop spending money, man, on militarism. We need money to deal with human challenges of ensuring that there’s food security in the world. Put money in the right direction of technology to help humanity, to help the development of humanity, to invest in human development. That is what we require to ensure that all the peoples of the world have access. You know, this thing of maintaining structures like those, they lead to these depopulation programs which are also regressive and destructive. Instead of people thinking positively on how to help humanity, they are thinking on how to liquidate humanity, which is bloody racist in its approach, which is imperial, which is unhuman, which is dehumanizing, and it needs to be condemned with the strongest terms possible. So, I am saying therefore that we clearly must be part of the countries and communities in the world that must export peace, that must export humanitarianism. That’s what we must be standing for. Most countries must do that. We must import medical solutions. We must import and export energy solutions and stop anything that is destructive. The world must not simply put its head between the legs. Let’s raise our head and raise this matter sharply, constructively. So that we can live in a better world with peace, justice, and stability.

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