The electricity minister with no power – Ramokgopa

Opinion

Three months after his appointment, South Africa’s president, Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, signed a proclamation to transfer some roles and responsibilities away from the country’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy in the regular government, Gwede Mantashe, to Minister in the Presidency for Electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.The IPP Office, under the leadership of Mantashe since 2019, has not added a single electron to the grid. They stand accused of deepening the country’s energy crisis. Read more 

Ramaphosa’s move to parachute the natty dresser in as electricity minister to save the day by increasing generation capacity and adding more electrons to the grid, has essentially failed. The country’s energy availability factor (EAF) has continued to decline year on year and the people of South Africa face up to 10 hours of blackouts daily.

Information source: Eskom

Respected energy analysts, Chris Yelland from EE Business Intelligence, explains that graphs above show Eskom energy availability factor (EAF) from week 1, 2021, to week 34, 2023. EAF for week 34, 2023, is 55.32%, compared to 61.10% for week 34, 2022. The EAF for the 2023 calendar year to date is 54.52%, compared to 59.78% for the same period in 2022.

As of today, Eskom reports stage 6 loadshedding (blackouts) and breakdowns are currently at 16 784MW of generating capacity while the capacity out of service for planned maintenance is 4 987MW. That is 21471MW out of service from a total of around 58000MW of total generation capacity from all technologies.

Since his appointment, Ramokgopa has upped his air miles meeting energy industry stakeholders, heavy users, cabinet, business leaders in China and all of Eskom’s power generation facilities, always with a gullible media entourage on tow. His job seemingly, is to deflect government incompetence and spin disinformation. As it turns out, he has no office, no budget and no plan. He is was also not accountable to parliament or the people of South Africa up until yesterday where it was announced that he will now report to the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises. What this means is anyone’s guess.

Motivation in question

Known for his designer clothes, luxury cars and very expensive watches, Ramokgopa, epitomises the ANC party elite, complete with a corruption cloud over his head due to his involvement in a multi-billion rand tender scandal during his time as Tshwane mayor. He was embroiled in a controversial tender awarded to PEU Capital Partners, which led to a legal challenge and a termination agreement that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions. Additionally, the Tshwane mayoral residence underwent a controversial R12 million makeover during his tenure. Read more

Ramokgopa is overshadowed by the country’s Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, and the IPP Office that falls under his control. Together, they have the final decision and signature of power purchase agreements. Until this changes, South Africa’s erstwhile electricity minister, like the emperor with no clothes, will continue to have no power and the country’s energy crisis will deepen.

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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