Defend Truth


Electricity minister has no budget, no department, no performance plan — so no oversight committee, say ANC MPs

Electricity minister has no budget, no department, no performance plan — so no oversight committee, say ANC MPs
Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images News)

The ANC in Parliament on Thursday lifted the lid on the apparent short-term expediency of Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s appointment when they argued against the establishment of an ad hoc oversight committee.

‘The announcement [of a minister of electricity] was made in the context that just over one year remains in the sixth-term administration,” said ANC MP Mina Lesoma on Thursday in a clear reference to the 2024 elections, adding that the appointment wasn’t about overhauling the executive, but about the government being more effective and decisive.

“It [the electricity ministry] has no department… it has no staff… it has no budget and it relies on the administration budget of the Presidency. It does not have a strategic five-year plan, but rather it is an immediate programme over the next… less than two years… because the end of the term is next year. It does not have an annual performance plan, but it is a programme in the Presidency.”

This blunt outline of Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa’s status came despite President Cyril Ramaphosa not yet finalising the delegation of his ministerial powers.

In a briefing on Wednesday, presidential spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said, “The issue of powers and functions will be resolved soon… There are engagements taking place between the President and minister and other ministers. It is not a matter that has disabled the minister.”

On Thursday, the ANC in Parliament said oversight over Ramokgopa didn’t need a committee. It was already done in seven ways, according to Lesoma. This was later echoed by ANC Deputy Chief Whip Doris Dlakude, who said it was a “false narrative” that Parliament did not hold the executive to account.

The points of oversight are:

  • The annual State of the Nation Address debate;
  • The President’s and the Deputy President’s Q&A sessions in the House;
  • Presidency budget vote debates;
  • Debates on any ministerial statement Ramokgopa may give in the House;
  • The Presidency presenting reports to Parliament; and
  • Ramokgopa’s participation in economic ministerial question sessions in the House.

But DA MP Kevin Mileham, who sponsored the motion for an ad hoc oversight committee for the electricity minister, replied that in terms of the Constitution, Ramokgopa remained individually accountable to Parliament.

“No one is saying there is no accountability. What we are saying is, it is weak and insufficient.”

It’s a non-starter

The proposed ad hoc oversight committee was supported by the EFF, IFP and Freedom Front Plus. But as the ANC objected, given the governing party’s numerical dominance, it’s a non-starter, like the ANC nixed the DA-proposed ad hoc committees on the Phala Phala farm forex scandal and Eskom cartel corruption.

The formal decision on an electricity ministerial ad hoc oversight committee, possibly through a vote, is scheduled for 25 May.

It comes against the backdrop of continued political tussles over the rolling blackouts that leave South Africans without electricity for up to 10 hours a day. And the pressure is on the governing ANC, whose electoral standing has been slipping in the past decade, ahead of the 2024 elections for which campaigning is already effectively under way.

It is such electioneering that the ANC speakers on Thursday implied had led to the DA’s proposals even after the rules committee rejected an electricity committee. However, the DA, EFF, IFP and FF+ agreed such a committee was needed precisely because of the lack of a permanent committee, and because no decision was taken on a Presidency oversight committee.

Parliament’s rules committee on 25 April kicked a Presidency oversight committee for touch to the post-2024 elections crop of MPs, saying more research and an overseas study tour were required. Despite rejecting an electricity committee, it was decided to treat Ramokgopa as having a stand-alone ministry so he could participate in the economic cluster ministerial question slot.

Lack of clarity

While this all seems like parliamentary niceties, it reflects the lack of clarity around Ramokgopa, at least until his powers and functions are delegated. It also reflects the ongoing political tussles, both in Cabinet — where effectively three ministers deal with electricity, energy and Eskom — and within the ANC. It’s broader governance messiness.

Ramokgopa and Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe seem to be on the same page if Wednesday’s parliamentary Q&A is anything to go by.

Mantashe told MPs: “If I had the scope, I would not have decommissioned Komati… Today we have a solar plant in Komati. That solar [plant], instead of the 1,300MW that Komati provided, gives us 200MW. So that decision to decommission Komati, I submit, is a wrong decision.” Mantshe also quipped that he had told the electricity minister to handle all the hot potatoes.

“If the power station has to come to an end, it can be decommissioned. But if the lifespan can be extended, it should be extended because the crisis we are having is the availability of electricity today.”

But the numbers don’t add up. When Komati was decommissioned in October 2022, it barely produced 130MW for the national grid.

Inconsistency and instability

Ramokgopa had touted extending the lifespan of ageing power plants, calling for South Africa “not be on an aggressive path of decarbonisation” in a briefing on 6 April following his tour of power stations.

The Cabinet shot this down on 19 April — the National Energy Crisis Committee would deal with it, according to an official government statement — but then Ramokgopa took the plan to the ANC National Executive Committee on 21 April where it found favour.

This smacks of policy inconsistency and instability. It’s messy, especially when taken together with the lack of dedicated parliamentary oversight on the electricity ministry beyond questions in the House where ministers are deemed to have answered, regardless of the quality or relevance of their replies.

It’s a governance muddle South Africa can ill afford. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Hermann Funk says:

    This article is another demonstration that Ramaphosa is totally incompetent. Any business leader who appoints someone for a new position has clearly defined what the new position is about and has listed all the qualifications needed for the new person to fill the position created. Ramaphosa is incapable of doing this. The sooner he retires to his farm, the better for the country.

  • Dee Bee says:

    Mantashe laments that hte solar only produces 200MW, whereas Komati had an installed capacity of 1,300MW, ergo it should be operating – but could barely operate at 10% capacity and would have been hugely expensive to keep running and upgrading.

    So is Gwede Mantashe unaware of the fact that Komati had all but collapsed, or does he not understand that, as much as you want to, flogging a dead horse won’t bring it back to life, or is he just a bare-faced liar batting for his coal connections? Whichever way you look at it, Gwede Mantashe is not fit for office. He is functionally illiterate for the post he holds and is the single biggest obstacle to development in South Africa today: he is fighting tooth and nail to stop renewables being introduced to the grid, he simply refuses to buy an off the shelf cadastre for the mining industry, preferring a long, tedious bidding system that will doubtless go to a crony who will take years to produce a cadastre that will be unusable (most countries in the region have the same solution and they work superbly – but they also create transparency; something Mantashe clearly wants to avoid at all costs, there can be no other explanation). Bring on 2024 and let’s throw this lot out without ceremony.

    • Lisbeth Scalabrini says:

      It also seems that the Karpowerships have surfaced again. They get a “no go” but always come back again for another test. How is this possible? Who is pulling the strings?

  • Hilary Morris says:

    Governance muddles are all we get! How much longer can this continue before we reach all fall down? Although we probably already have. Dead man walking?

  • Michael Forsyth says:

    “saying more research and an overseas study tour were required.” Another gravy train junket for cadres.

  • Change is good sa says:

    Mantashe has been the Minister of Energy since 2019, but has not dealt with or solved a single problem. This alone should have him fired. Corruption has flourished under his watch and he is responsible for the demise of Eskom. South Africans are sickened and angry by government paralysis. Decent upstanding ANC MP’s should be calling for his resignation. Parliament should be calling for his resignation, Opposition parties should be calling for his resignation. Business should be calling for his resignation. ‘We the people’ should demand his resignation.
    He has reduced Eskom to the state it is in now and then has the audacity to put his Kapowership deal back on the table. Come on South Africa, let’s not let another self-obsessed power person control our destiny. Mantashe thinks he can twist us with words, but this is just a delay tactic until we are desperate and take the Kapowership deal. He really needs to resign, South Africa.

    • Patterson Alan John says:

      “He needs to resign.”
      Mantashe is like a limpet on a rock – he won’t let go.
      And none of the other limpets around him, have any intention of upsetting the status quo.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.8% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.2% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.2% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.2%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options