Electing to electrify: unpacking the local crisis and state response in Sun Valley, Soweto

Luke Sinwell, Trevor Ngwane, Terri Maggott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article draws from a wider research project on ‘Energy Racism’ to explore the experiences and perspectives of ordinary residents in Sun Valley, Soweto (in Ward 22). From August 2020, due to a broken electricity transformer, residents of Sun Valley suffered in the dark. They employed many strategies to access energy and called a range of meetings with ANC councillors and Eskom officials, but their pleas fell on deaf ears until they threatened to boycott the 2021 local government elections. President Cyril Ramaphosa then announced that the problem would be resolved and suddenly, in a clear-cut drive to secure votes, the transformers were fixed within days of the 1 November election. We argue that the decision to electrify Sun Valley is part of the strategy of ‘energy racism’ since it relies upon and assumes that the Black working class will continue to bear the burden of the electricity crisis. Building upon the notion of racial capitalism, the article suggests that mainstream political parties in South Africa promote the systemic exclusion of townships and informal settlements until the precise moment that it becomes necessary for authorities (the Black faces of white monopoly capital) to cash in on their piecemeal inclusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-349
Number of pages13
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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