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President Ramaphosa must tell SA the truth about proposed Chinese-owned power plant in Limpopo


President Cyril Ramaphosa must tell South Africa the truth about the proposed Chinese-owned power plant in Limpopo, Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane said on Sunday.

Speaking at a DA 2019 elections event at Makhuvha Stadium in Thohoyandou in Limpopo, Maimane said Ramaphosa had visited Thohoyandou on Saturday and had a lot to say about accountability and basic service delivery, which are foreign concepts to the people of Limpopo.

In this province, the corrupt walk free while the people are left in crippling poverty. In this province, there are 937,000 unemployed people mainly young people. And this number continues to grow, Maimane said.

Not too far from here, the multi-billion development of the Musina-Makhado Special Economic Zone (SEZ) is currently underway. This project has been punted by the president, the premier of Limpopo, and various government departments and entities as a job-creating economic development that ought to be celebrated. What has not been punted by the president is the quid pro quo that has been agreed to with these Chinese companies.

What the president did not mention yesterday [Saturday] was the Power China International Energy Project in the Musina-Makhado SEZ. In short, this is the construction and operation of a 4600MW coal-fired plant to be built over the next few years. This announcement was made on the back of President Ramaphosas trip to China in September last year the same trip where he secured a R33 billion loan for Eskom from the Chinese Development Bank, Maimane said.

The reality was that it appeared this power plant would be used solely to power the SEZ. There were many serious questions about this development, none of which the president had been forthcoming with. In the interests of South Africa, absolute clarity was needed on the timeline on the new coal-powered plant; who would build it; and whether it would only serve the planned new Chinese-controlled industrial park.

It cannot be the case that while South Africa is on the brink of plunging into complete darkness due to lack of energy, Ramaphosa will allow foreign companies to come to our shores and build their own power plants for their own narrow interests.

Cyril Ramaphosas new strategy cannot be to sell our country to the highest bidder. The DA will not allow Chinas model of debt trap diplomacy to take root in South Africa. We all know what happens when countries sign such deals with China. Just ask Sri Lanka, who had to surrender an entire port and surrounding land. Or Zambia who stand to lose Lusaka International airport to the Chinese. Or Djibouti who face the possibility of handing over some key assets to China, Maimane said.

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