Ramokgopa Ramaphosa transfers responsibility for new power generation to Ramokgopa, pulling plug on Mantashe

Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. (Graphic: Jocelyn Adamson; Photo by Gallo Images / Sowetan / Vathiswa Ruselo)

mmBy Ed Stoddard Follow26 May 2023  48

President Cyril Ramaphosa has finally given his new electricity minister real power, transferring responsibility for procuring new electricity generation to Kgosientsho Ramokgopa from Minerals and energy minister Gwede Mantashe, who has failed completely on this front.Listen to this article0:00 / 2:321XBeyondWordsRamaphosa has pulled the plug on Mantashe. In a proclamation published on Friday, the President said he was transferring responsibility for new power procurement to Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, whose role since his appointment in March has been ill-defined. That responsibility previously lay with the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), which under Minister Gwede Mantashe has failed to add a single megawatt to the grid. Its failure to do so under his tenure is one of the key reasons behind the rolling blackouts slashing economic growth, fueling inflation and making life miserable for virtually every South African.“President Cyril Ramaphosa has, in terms of Section 97 of the Constitution, signed a proclamation that transfers to the Minister of Electricity certain powers and functions entrusted by the Electricity Regulation Act,” the presidency said in a statement. “This proclamation will provide the Minister of Electricity with the powers necessary to direct the procurement of new generation capacity and ensure security of supply,” it said. The proclamation comes against the backdrop of a worsening power crisis which has sent the rand crashing to new lows against the dollar and shattered any prospects of meaningful economic growth or job creation. It comes 10 days after Mantashe announced that the DMRE would be putting out requests for proposals for a range of new sources for the ailing grid, including projects for 3,000MW of gas-to-power and 2,500MW of nuclear energy. The controversial Karpowership deal has also been steaming ahead after running aground with legal and environmental challenges. The loss of such procurement powers is a blow to Mantashe, under whose watch the DMRE has fallen into a state of dysfunction on various fronts. The announcement also coincides with the Daily Maverick’s flagship event, The Gathering: The Earth Edition, which is focused on the climate crisis and the just energy transition that Mantashe has been reluctant to embrace. DM