Retheorising the relationship between electricity scarcity and social injustice: evidence from Zimbabwe

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Ellen Fungisai Chipango University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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Despite the pervasive social scarcity of electricity in Zimbabwe, there is little understanding of this phenomenon, especially how it abrogates social justice. With a view to debunking the natural inevitability of electricity scarcity, the article argues that in an energy sector driven by neoliberal tendencies, capital accumulation is not challenged. Hence electricity scarcity is erroneously considered inevitable. Drawing on qualitative research, the fundamental argument advanced in this article is that structural factors such as the market trends produce and reproduce electricity social scarcity, which in turn perpetuates social injustice because electricity is a sine qua non of human development. Coincidentally, this work also reveals that neoliberalism is not only an ideological rhetoric embedded in political-economic reality, but rather its discourse produces prudent subjects who are loyal to it and prepared to endure the effects of energy poverty. Accordingly, the paper raises some critical challenges for policymakers as it has both political-economic and social justice implications, insisting that electricity availability does not mean access to all – scarcity can be experienced even when the resource is in abundance.

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Ellen Fungisai Chipango University of Johannesburg, South Africa

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