Parties, business weigh in on new minister of electricity

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has his job cut out for him, and finding a solution to the electricity crisis must be his priority, chief executive of Black Business Council (BBC) Kganki Matabane told Sunday World.

The comment was in response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of his cabinet reshuffle, which included the installation of Ramakgopa as the new minister of electricity.

“Finding lasting solutions to loadshedding should be his priority,” said Matabane. However, Matabane said the BBC rejected the idea that a ministry of electricity would solve loadshedding, as doing so only required less bureaucracy.

Business Unity South Africa (Busa) had also opposed the idea of a minister of electricity.

“He will have a significant challenge coordinating between his department and the minister of mineral resources and energy,” Busa said.

The EFF said Ramakgopa’s new position was redundant, given the two existing ministers were already responsible for energy. In addition, the DA said Ramaphosa’s electricity ministry would add tens of millions of rands to state expenditure.

The EFF said Ramaphosa showed no confidence in Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Instead of removing them, he appointed a third person to pretend to resolve the crippling energy crisis.

Ramokgopa takes up office after Eskom had a record 207 days of load shedding in 2022. In addition, Eskom faces many challenges, including inadequate maintenance of its power plants and infrastructure, mismanagement, and allegations of corruption.

The Minerals Council welcomed the appointment of Ramokgopa .
“The appointment of Dr Ramokgopa is a good appointment. The Minerals Council has worked with him in the past and we look forward to working with him to help resolve South Africa’s electricity crisis. It’s important that the other components of government align with the presidency to achieve the objectives of the electricity recovery plan,” said Roger Baxter, CEO of the Minerals Council.
Baxter added that the council’s members and the private sector have more than 9GW of renewable energy projects worth more than R160-billion that can be built in the next five years, taking pressure off Eskom so it can conduct its critical maintenance programmes and restore its ageing fleet of power plants to stability.

Before his ministerial appointment, Ramokgopa was head of the presidency’s investment and infrastructure office. Prior to joining the national government, one of his notable roles was as Tshwane’s executive mayor from 2010 to 2016. In addition, Ramokgopa has a PhD in public affairs from the University of Pretoria.

However, the DA and EFF disagreed.
In a statement the DA said: “Ramokgopa nearly singlehandedly wiped out the City of Tshwane with a smart meter contract declared irregular by the auditor-general when he was the metro’s mayor.”
The Auditor General of South Africa, in its 2017 annual report, noted that the City of Tshwane’s R1.3-billion expenditure on smart prepaid meters was irregular. In October 2017, the North Gauteng High Court declared all of the City of Tshwane’s smart prepaid meter agreements constitutionally invalid, according to Moneyweb.

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