Home News ‘Just how we speak’: Sylvia Lucas hits back at criticism on loadshedding comment

‘Just how we speak’: Sylvia Lucas hits back at criticism on loadshedding comment

by Zahid Jadwat

Deputy speaker of the NCOP Sylvia Lucas during the state of the nation debate.
[Picture: Twitter/Parliament]


Telling fellow parliamentarians that South Africa’s loadshedding crisis “isn’t the end of the world” is no big deal; it is just how some people speak. That is according to ANC MP Sylvia Lucas, defending remarks made during a debate on the state of the nation address.

During the SONA debate on Tuesday, the deputy chair of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) remarked, in Afrikaans, that loadshedding was not the end of the world. She claimed sabotage was behind heightened stages of loadshedding following the president’s address last Thursday.

“Load shedding isn’t the end of the world. And I am, Mr President, one of the people who feel that, once you talk about load shedding, they start sabotaging you,” she said.

But on Wednesday, she dismissed subsequent backlash, arguing her comments were just how people in her hometown of Upington, Northern Cape, spoke.

Perhaps it is how people speak from their comfortable positions in government, but privilege is something Lucas denied she enjoyed.

“It is how we speak where I come from. I did not imply that I did not care,” she said, quoted by The Citizen. “And it is not because I am somehow privileged. I am not privileged,” she insisted.


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The remarks sparked outrage among ordinary South Africans who have had to contend with crippling, recurrent power cuts for more than a decade already.

Lucas went on to justify her comment, to the extent that she complained of having to spend R18 500 on back-up equipment to power up appliances during loadshedding.

“I bought it [an inverter] so that my children can charge phones, use WiFi and for the TV and fridge … Some people are saying that I have R200 000 worth of solar panels, but I do not,” she said.

Weighing in, experts believed her initial comment reflected the nonchalance of current leaders.

“Usually, the emperor fiddles while Rome burns,” said political analyst Ongama Mtimka. “That’s what that statement underscores. It underscored how they feel we should have even more ability to endure what’s happening in the country and it’s wrong.”

Thami Ntuli, chairperson of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) in KwaZulu-Natal blasted Lucas’s “insensitive” comment. He pointed to the severe knock businesses have taken from loadshedding.

“Loadshedding has resulted in loss of revenue and service delivery pickets that have affected the economy. Some businesses are unable to pay their dues to municipalities because of loadshedding, which has left them financially limping. Some businesses have even closed shop because of loadshedding,” he said.

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