5 times Mantashe’s ‘toing and froing’ has worsened SA’s energy crisis 

Please find an attached soundbite by Kevin Mileham MP 

Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources (DMRE), Gwede Mantashe, has become an expert at apportioning blame for South Africa’s energy crisis while conveniently failing to take responsibility over his actions, which have significantly escalated the crisis.

Yesterday, Mantashe blamed South Africa’s power shortages on Eskom’s ‘toing and froing’ over Karpowership and other winning bids under the emergency power procurement programme. While Eskom should rightly be blamed for the crippling electricity crisis, Mantashe’s policy missteps and combative campaign against renewable energy have combined to limit critical investment in the country’s energy sector.

Since his appointment to the Energy and Mineral Resources portfolio, Mantashe has been an impediment in the attainment of an energy secure future. The following are 5 instances where his ‘toing and froing’ has worsened South Africa’s electricity crisis:

  • The Small Projects Programme (SPP) which was established in 2013 to help local independent power producers run power projects up to 5MW in size,  has stalled. Five years after incurring costs to keep the 20 projects, which range across wind, solar and biomass technologies, on standby for government go-ahead, no power purchase agreements have been signed and no projects have proceeded into construction.
  • DMRE is currently in court facing charges of corruption and procedurally unfair procurement processes which resulted in the scandal ridden R200 billion Karpowership project. Together with the failure to reach financial close, this has resulted in the delayed implementation of the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Programme.
  • A study by the auditing firm Ernst and Young, indicated that there is a backlog of 100 renewable projects trying to secure government permission. These could plug the loadshedding gap, create 100 000 jobs and reduce energy costs. Manatashe’s Department has instead stifled the projects through red tape, delays and bureaucracy.
  • In 2014, banks pulled out of funding the Thabametsi and Khanyisa coal fired power projects in response to growing opposition against financing fossil fuel energy projects. Surprisingly, DMRE and the IPP office appear to be pushing ahead with the procurement of 1500MW of new coal fired power, starting in the first quarter of 2022, despite evidence that this would struggle to be financed.
  • Mantashe has been issuing contradictory statements, often in direct contradiction to President Ramaphosa, on South Africa’s transition to clean energy sources. This creates uncertainty and delays much needed investment in the energy sector, especially after South Africa obtained a multi-billion rand renewable energy investment pledge from the recently concluded COP26 Climate Summit in Glasglow.

Eskom’s inability to maintain a regular supply of electricity, effectively subjecting the country to rolling blackouts much more frequently than any time in the past 14 years, has become the single biggest threat to livelihoods and our economy. It is critical that an open, transparent programme be put in place to procure new electricity generation and incentivise energy efficiency and demand management. Mantashe is not the right person to deal with this urgent national crisis and he should be fired.