The Uses and Misuses of the Just Transition Framework in South Africa




A Conversation with Phethani Madzivhandila

South Africa is currently being gripped by a devastating energy crisis with homes and businesses suffering blackouts for up to twelve hours a day. The failure of the country’s national power utility—Eskom—to meet electricity demand has been ongoing since 2007, and is now experiencing perhaps its worst period. In May 2022, the South African government, under the leadership of President Cyril Ramaphosa, adopted a Just Transition Framework to move the country through a climate change inspired energy transition. However, given the numerous contradictions of the Ramaphosa government, we have to question how genuine this effort truly is. Is it a way of appropriating the language of the left to justify the continuation of neo-liberal extraction programs? We will explore this question in detail with South African radical activist Phethani Madzivhandila.

Phethani Madzivhandila is a Pan Africanist Marxist historian and an activist based in Azania (South Africa). If not reading historical literature or thinking about the revolution, he spends most of his time missing Walter Rodney and imagining a world without capitalism. His research interests draw from the historical and current development of racial capitalism in Africa and how it influences the Social Relations of Agrarian Change in rural areas.

Phethani is currently focused on how the post Covid-19 world continues to be shaped by the even and uneven development in relation to the Global North and Global South underdevelopment.