Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said it is unfair to blame him for the electricity crisis, but he signed a document where he took responsibility for it.
Mantashe told News24 it was unfair to blame him or the government for the electricity problems as they have “gone the extra mile to alleviate the troubles at Eskom”.
“It’s unfair to place blame on myself or the government. What should I do with Eskom as mineral resources and energy minister?” he asked.
He blamed Eskom’s problems on minister Pravin Gordhan, saying the power utility falls under the Department of Public Enterprises.
These comments came amidst a cabinet committee meeting on Wednesday to discuss the Eskom crisis and the worst load-shedding South Africa has ever seen.
Despite Mantashe’s claim that he was not to blame for the crisis, many experts highlighted that he is at the centre of South Africa’s electricity shortage.
Kevin Mileham, the DA’s shadow minister of mineral resources and energy, said in April that Mantashe’s risk mitigation independent power producer procurement programme (RMIPPP) had been delayed three times.
“The signing of power purchase agreements by preferred bidders for the 2,000MW RMPIPP has once again been postponed due to ‘outstanding matters and conditions with Eskom,'” he said.
“This is the third postponement since the last deadline extension in January 2022.”
These multiple delays are two wasted years by Mantashe that will keep South Africa trapped in an electricity crisis for an extended period,” Mileham said.
Independent analysts estimate that, had South Africa pursued new solar or wind energy projects during the RMIPPP period, these projects would have been ready for commissioning by now.
“South Africa is going through an economically destructive energy crisis and is in urgent need of immediate workable solutions, but it seems lost on Mantashe,” said Mileham.
Gwede Mantashe signed an agreement taking responsibility
Commenting on Mantashe’s claim that he is not to blame, energy expert Chris Yelland pointed out that the minister signed an agreement where he accepted responsibility for the electricity supply.
The details are contained in the “Performance agreement between the President of the Republic of South Africa and the Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy”.
The period of the agreement is from June 2019 to April 2024.
Mantashe has been the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy of South Africa since 27 February 2018.
The agreement, signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Gwede Mantashe, has the points below as a key responsibility for the minister.
- Improve energy availability factor to ensure a constant supply of electricity.
- Create maintenance space for Eskom by augmenting supply with 2000 MW of emergency power, additional power from IPPs and generation for own use in line with IRP 2019. Implement the Integrated Resource Plan 2019.
- The energy availability factor must be “above 80% by 2024”.
Mantashe is also responsible for “increasing the reserve margin to counter load shedding” to improve the energy availability factor.
Although the 2024 deadline has not arrived, the energy availability factor has plummeted under his leadership, and the process of getting additional power from IPPs has been delayed numerous times.
Therefore, Mantashe’s claim that he should not be blamed for the electricity crisis is misguided.
He has signed a document agreeing to be held responsible for the “constant supply of electricity”.
The increased load-shedding since he took office in February 2018 shows that he is failing to ensure an improvement in the energy availability factor — as agreed with The President.