SOUTH AFRICA’S NEW MINISTER OF MISERY ELECTRICITY
It is a President’s prerogative to choose his cabinet and then reshuffle it, especially when it is filled with detractors rather than supporters. It would be a strong move for our President to strategically surround himself with people who are looking to sustain his presidential term, versus those who seek to end it prematurely through impeachment proceedings. Given the current power crisis both from an electrical ad political perspective – it is no wonder President Cyril Ramaphosa has had to think outside the box and at implementing something entirely new through the addition of yet another minister to his already ‘bloated’ cabinet, at least according to local opposition parties, who have been incredibly vocal about this up until now. Since we have never had one before, it’s hard to grasp exactly what the Minister of Electricity’s role will actually entail, besides the obvious of course.
The President has been relatively tight-lipped since his initial announcement around his plans to place a minister in charge of the current electricity crisis and there was a lot of speculation as to who would be taking up the mantel. However, on the 6th of March, President Cyril Ramaphosa finally gave the nation a name – Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, whom many suspected would be the one to assume the position. Ramokgopa has held a few positions within the Presidency including the Head of the Investment and Infrastructure Office from 2019 and was also the Executive Mayor of Tshwane for six years from 2010 to 2016. Outside of the appointment of the Minister of Electricity, Maropene Ramokgopa was also appointed the Minister of planning, monitoring and evaluation which will now be another ministry within the presidency.
The idea is for the minister of electricity is to take ownership of reducing load shedding and presiding over the Energy Plan, which the President has made provisions for. Right now, there is no set term for the Minister, and as the President says – he will remain in his position until such a time as the crisis has “been dealt with.” Ideally however, this will not be a permanent appointment but a ‘transitory’ one.
According to the President, “The primary task of the new Minister will be to significantly reduce the severity and frequency of load shedding as a matter of urgency.
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.
To enable the Minister to do this work, I will, in terms of section 97 of the Constitution, transfer to them certain powers and functions contained in relevant legislation.”
Let’s hope that the new minister of electricity will not become the latest ‘minister of misery’ and will come with sustainable alternatives outside of Eskom.