Thursday, March 30, 2023

South Africa: Faced with the energy crisis, Ramaphosa always in search of solutions

Faced with the loss of popularity of the ANC and a year from the general elections, the South African president knows that he must find new solutions as the energy situation worsens. A month after declaring a state of national disaster, the Head of State has appointed a Minister of Electricity, a new position and who will be directly attached to the presidency. “The main task of this new ministry will be to significantly reduce the intensity and frequency of load shedding, on an urgent basis,” said Cyril Ramaphosa when announcing a slight reshuffle last week.

For this post of coordination of the actions of the various ministries and executives of the public company Eskom, the choice fell on Kgosientso Ramokgopa, until now little known to the general public but having already been mayor of Pretoria and at the head of the Office for Investment in Infrastructure, an institution created in 2019 by the Head of State. “We are not going to present a new plan, there is already an energy plan for the country”, explained the new minister during his swearing-in. “So my role is to oversee its application, respecting the deadlines for which we have committed. »

Series of emergency measures

This new position within the government comes on top of the declaration of a state of national disaster, already used to respond to the Covid health crisis and which makes it possible to speed up decision-making and the implementation of projects. The Ministry of the Economy also announced last month the takeover of more than half of Eskom’s debt, or some 13 billion euros.

Emergency measures rejected en bloc by the first opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, which fears a lack of control and an intensification of corruption. As for this post of minister, the opposition MP Kevin Mileham believes that “organizing more consultations around a problem which is very well known and has been well exposed is not a strategy”.

Vacancy at the head of Eskom

In addition, another appointment remains pending for the moment: who will occupy the very unenviable position of CEO of Eskom, after the hasty departure of André de Ruyter? The former boss of the electricity giant, who had already resigned, was fired faster than expected following a sensational interview. After having denounced an attempt to poison him, André de Ruyter did not hesitate, on a private South African channel, to accuse the ANC in power of being, even today, complicit in acts of embezzlement within the public company, in close contact with mafia cartels.

What plunge Eskom a little more into turmoil, while the company is also grappling with the question of phasing out coal and the application of a “just transition” plan.


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