6 MONTHS OF “NO ACCOUNTABILITY” FOR SA’s ELECTRICITY MINISTER: Another 52 weeks of loadshedding looms – Samantha Graham-Mare

South Africa’s ever-optimistic Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has had “no accountability” for six months. That has emerged from a BizNews interview with the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of Electricity, Samantha Graham-Mare. She shares the details of her many failed attempts to engage the Minister to collaborate on solving the country’s power-supply crisis. She charges that he has failed to attend any of the ad hoc Energy meetings in the Western Cape, “despite having three times agreed to be there and then not pitching for them”. However, with Parliament having decided that the Minister now reports to the Department of Public Enterprises, she is hopeful that there will be opportunities to engage with him in the Portfolio Committee. Meanwhile, the Minister’s predictions ”change weekly” in terms of when the crisis will be resolved. “But if we actually had to have a look at ESKOM’s outlook for the next 52 weeks, you will see that every single week is indicated in red, which means that there will be load shedding – according to ESKOM- for every single week of the next 52 weeks,” she warns. – Chris Steyn

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:09 – Introductions
  • 00:36 – Samantha Graham-Mare on how optimistic should we be that the electricity crisis in the country will be resolved within a year
  • 01:24 – What does the Minister base his optimism on
  • 03:06 – Extending the lives of all power stations
  • 04:54 – Issues surrounding the green energy requirement
  • 07:24 – Do she and the minister ever communicate
  • 08:42 – If she were the minister and not the shadow, what would the priorities be right now
  • 09:32 – Conclusions

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Highlights from the Interview

South Africa’s ever-optimistic Minister of Electricity, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has had “no accountability” for six months.

That has emerged from a BizNews interview with the Democratic Alliance’s (DA’s) Shadow Minister of Electricity, Samantha Graham-Mare.

She shares the details of her many failed attempts to engage the Minister to collaborate on solving the country’s power-supply crisis.

“I’ve tried. It’s a one-way communication. I chat to him when I see him in Parliament…the couple of times that he’s been there. 

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“Don’t forget, he’s gotten away with not having to report to anybody. He’s had no accountability for six months because he’s had no Portfolio Committee to account to. 

“So I’ve seen him in Parliament three times where there’ve been questions to ministers – and that’s been the sum total of any engagement that we’ve had in any formal environment. 

“I have emailed him. I’ve sent him recommendations from people. I’ve invited him to join me on a tour of the Western Cape so we can go look at the solutions that they are bringing to the table. 

“He’s also failed to attend any of the Energy, ad hoc Energy meetings in the Western Cape, despite having three times agreed to be there and then not pitching for them. 

“So, at this stage he seems to be very happy communicating through the media but he’s not too happy in terms of communication on a one-on-one basis or via any of the committees that are established to address energy.”

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However, with Parliament having decided that the Minister now reports to the Department of Public Enterprises, she is hopeful that there will be “opportunities for us to engage with him in our Portfolio Committee so that we can have conversations”.

As for the Minister’s optimism that the power supply crisis could be resolved within a year, she says: “I think his predictions change weekly in terms of when it will be over. But if we actually had to have a look at ESKOM’s outlook for the next 52 weeks, you will see that every single week is indicated in red, which means that there will be load shedding – according to ESKOM- for every single week of the next 52 weeks.

“In other words, we can keep talking about having turned the corner. We can keep saying that we are, you know, beating load shedding. But at this stage, we are spoeg-en-plak, as they say in the classics. We are patching where we can and we’re doing nothing to actually fix the problem. We are just addressing the symptoms.”

Graham-Mare also discusses the critical issues that are being overlooked in the move to extend the life for coal-powered stations.  “…the problem with the coal-fired power stations is that they’ve been allowed to degrade to such an extent that it’s going to take a vast amount of money to get them back to an operational state. We are going to battle to get funding for that because no country in the world, no bank in the world is going to provide funding for coal-fired power stations, not with the entire move against that and the move to sustainable climate action. So we’re going to struggle to find any funding available. There’s none in the government, the government has got no money.”

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Asked what her immediate priorities would be if she were the minister and not the shadow, Graham-Mare says: “My priorities would be twofold. One would obviously be in trying to secure funding for the grid to increase that capability. And then also to be bringing renewable energies online, tapping into the money that’s available to us from overseas to try and bring more and more renewable energies online while we are transitioning so that we are increasing green energy jobs while we’re not losing coal jobs, and then to find a way that we can have that… 

transition happening. There is so much, there’s a wealth of knowledge and experience overseas in terms of how we can do this but the government seems absolutely hell-bent on ignoring the international partners…”

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