In a ward where South Africa’s governing African National Congress won handily in local elections three years ago, party campaign worker Poppy Vilakazi has been getting a decidedly frosty reception lately. “Mostly they are angry,” she told Reuters, speaking in Komati, a village in the shadow of a shuttered power plant in Mpumalanga province, an ANC stronghold in the country’s coal belt. “They feel the ANC let them down by allowing this power station to close.” South Africa’s creaky power sector and the economic fallout from State utility Eskom’s struggle to keep the lights on are top issues in a May 29 election that polls predict could see the ANC lose its 30-year parliamentary majority. But as President Cyril Ramaphosa seeks to balance the need to boost energy output against dwindling funding for coal – which generates 80% of the country’s power – and global demands that South Africa decarbonise, the issue is dividing his party. Nowhere is that more evident than in Komati, where the conversion of a 60-year-old, 1 000-megawatt coal power plant has triggered a local and national backlash.