Gwede Mantashe

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Image via: flickr

Mantashe has done ‘precious little’ to assist embattled Eskom – DA

With Eskom having implemented Stage 2 load shedding on Thursday, the DA want to know exactly what Mantashe is doing about the problem.

Gwede Mantashe

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Image via: flickr

With South Africans having woken up to the unfortunate reality of yet another round of load shedding on Thursday 13 August, the Democratic Alliance (DA) want to know what Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, is doing to ensure that Eskom are able to keep the lights on. 

Eskom conceded that their system is under severe pressure on Thursday, and have therefore resorted to rationing the supply of power in a bid to protect the grid, and the DA believe that Mantashe needs to do a lot more to ensure that South Africans don’t continuously suffer rolling blackouts in the future.

Eskom unaided by ‘dithering’ energy minister  

DA Shadow Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Kevin Mileham, said on Thursday that Mantashe is doing “precious little” to protect the power supply”. 

He charged that after the President Cyril Ramaphosa Mantashe committed to an Emergency Power Procurement programme in December 2019, which sought to add 2 000 to 3 000 MW to the grid as a matter of urgency, Mantashe dropped the ball and failed to deliver. 

“The good intentions of President Cyril Ramaphosa were undermined by his Minister, who has sat on his hands and not procured a single megawatt of additional generation,” he said. 

Mileham said that there were several crucial promises that Mantashe had failed to make good on promises to improve the following areas in the Energy sector:

  • Secure the promised incremental supply from existing renewable energy independent power producers with spare capacity;
  • Increase the exemption threshold required for licensing of generation facilities from 1MW to 10MW;
  • Open the next bid window for renewable energy Independent Power Producers (IPP).

“Instead, the Minister has dithered and squandered a period of lowered demand, during which he could have done so much more to bolster South Africa’s power supply,”said Mileham. 

Eskom load shedding woes continue  

Eskom have been forced to implement load shedding – or “load reduction” as they’ve lately preferred to label their efforts to conserve supply to the national grid – more and more frequently over the last two months, having treated South Africans to a period of uninterrupted illumination during the early stages of the lockdown

Now, the DA say that Eskom should not be given monopolistic control of South Africa’s power supply, and that Independent Power Producers (IPPs) should be introduced into a more competitive market. 

“South Africa needs to break free of the Eskom monopoly. One of the things necessary to do this is to create a transmission grid that is independent of Eskom’s generation facility,” said Mileham, adding that the opposition party has in place a strategy to facilitate the introduction of such producers. 

“This is exactly what the DA’s Independent Electricity Management Operator (IEMO) Bill would do,” he said.

“This bill, introduced by DA Chief Whip, Natasha Mazzone MP in 2019, would permit Eskom’s generation plants and those of independent power producers to compete on a level playing field, and allow metropolitan municipalities with the financial capacity and technical capabilities to purchase electricity directly from IPPs.”

DA call for Mantashe’s head  

Mileham concluded that Mantashe should face the axe considering the aforementioned failures. 

“It is clear that Mantashe is out of his depth and playing to the unions/coal lobby. It is time that President Ramaphosa either held him to the commitments made in December last year, or fire him from his cabinet,’ he said. 

“Mantashe cannot be allowed to continue as the handbrake on the South African economy. To save lives and livelihoods, we need a secure supply of electricity, at the lowest possible cost, in the shortest possible timeframe.”