- South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has announced Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa as the new Minister in the Presidency for Electricity.
- Gwede Mantashe stays on as Mineral Resources and Energy Minister while Pravin Gordhan also stays on in his role of Minister of Public Enterprises which has oversight over Eskom.
- The country’s state owned power utility, Eskom, has been plagued by major incidences of theft, questionable equipment failure and acts of sabotage which, along with a legacy of poor planning, maintenance and corruption, over the last decade, has spiralled the country into a major energy crisis where daily blackouts are costing the economy a massive R950 million a day.
President Ramaphosa said in his new role, Ramokgopa’s primary goal will be to drive government’s programme of significantly reducing the “severity and frequency of load shedding as a matter of urgency” and to expedite government’s work to ensure the full implementation of the Energy Action Plan.
“To effectively oversee the electricity crisis response, the appointed Minister will have political responsibility, authority and control over all critical aspects of the Energy Action Plan. This will help to deal with the challenge of fragmentation of responsibility across various departments and Ministers which, while appropriate under normal circumstances, is not conducive to a crisis response.
“The Minister will be expected to facilitate the coordination of the numerous departments and entities involved in the crisis response, work with the Eskom leadership to turn around the performance of existing power stations, and accelerate the procurement of new generation capacity,” he said.
At the time of his appointment, Ramokgopa held the position of Head of the Investment and Infrastructure Office in the Presidency – a position he held since 2019.
A new role
The new Minister of Electricity in the Presidency will be empowered to carry out his duties through the transfer of certain powers and functions from the President in terms of the Constitution.
President Ramaphosa explained that the Minister of Electricity in the Presidency will also be empowered to carry out urgent actions needed to resolve the energy crisis through the recently gazetted National State of Disaster related to electricity regulations.
“The recently published disaster regulations empower the Minister of Electricity to issue directions to, among others, exclude critical facilities from load shedding where technically feasible; expedite various regulatory processes for energy projects; and enable Eskom to undertake critical maintenance more quickly and efficiently.
“The Minister in the Presidency for Electricity will liaise with other relevant Ministers to ensure coherence in the issuing of other directions during the national state of disaster,” he said.
President Ramaphosa added that the new Minister will stay in office “for as long as it is necessary to resolve the electricity crisis”.
A new portfolio
Before ascending to national government, Ramokgopa worked as the Member of Executive Committee (MEC) for Economic Development, Agriculture and Environment in Gauteng.
At local government level, Ramokgopa became one of the youngest mayors to head up a metropolitan municipality in South Africa when he took up the mayoral chains at the Tshwane municipality in 2010.
He held that position for at least five years.
Ramokgopa was also the CEO of both the Metropolitan Trading Company and the Johannesburg Market and was Deputy Chairperson of the board of Trade and Investment in Limpopo
He earned his Doctorate (PhD) in Public Affairs in 2019 with a dissertation titled: Leadership in establishing the Gauteng City-Region: the Case of the City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality.
He also holds a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering, a Master’s degree in Public Administration and a Master’s Degree in Business Leadership.
Author: Bryan Groenendaal