Thu, 23 Jan 2020

The DA has called for the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, to be fired over the current power power outages gripping the country.

The party's interim leader, John Steenhuisen, on Tuesday morning described Mantashe as the "biggest obstacle" to electricity supply sustainability, calling for municipalities to get the go-ahead to source power directly from independent power producers.

"Right now minister Mantashe is sitting with over 17 such applications on his desk. By signing one of them, the signal to the market would be massive and lead to a huge flow of interest in independent power producers," Steenhuisen told journalists outside Eskom headquarters in Johannesburg.

He called for Mantashe - whom he described as being in denial about the current electricity crisis - to be removed from office.

"Introducing independent power producers into the mix is now more essential than ever before. It is a necessity," Steenhuisen said.

Later on Tuesday, the DA-run City of Cape Town announced it intended to approach the Judge President of the Gauteng High Court to seek an expedited hearing on its energy case, asking Mantashe and the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) to allow it to buy energy from Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

The city wants a section 34 ministerial determination that will allow it to procure 150 MW of solar energy and 280 MW of wind energy from IPPs. The hearing is currently scheduled for May 2020.

On Tuesday afternoon, however, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy released a short statement saying it would be introducing "immediate measures" to increase access to energy supply as the country continued to face stage 4 load shedding.

The statement noted a number of steps aimed at bringing IPPs onstream sooner, including the promulgation of section 34 determinations. The department did not provide further information about the determinations.

The determinations refers to a section in law that states that the minister of energy, in consultation with the national electricity regulator, may determine if new generation capacity is needed, and whether the private sector should be involved.

The department described the move as "an urgent and immediate task to ensure economic growth".

Mines halt operations countrywide as Eskom asks for 20% power savings

Steenhuisen on Tuesday also took aim at President Cyril Ramaphosa for what he described as a lack of leadership during the energy supply crisis. Steenhuisen criticised the president for undertaking a trip to Egypt while the country was dealing with "what is the probably the most significant crisis" this year - which poses a great danger to the economic well being of the country and growth and jobs.

Ramaphosa left the country on Monday to take part in the inaugural session of the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development. On Tuesday afternoon, the Presidency confirmed to News24 that he would cut his trip to Egypt short, returning home to deal with the ongoing power crisis.

The DA leader called on the president to "address Parliament [and] take us into confidence about what is really going on".

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