Mantashe is too slow to act on energy transformation, DA tells Ramaphosa
Cape Town - The DA wants Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe axed if he does not act on commitments made in the SONA speech last week.
This was the view of DA MP Kevin Mileham during the debate on SONA on Wednesday.
Mileham said his party had hoped that President Cyril Ramaphosa would seize the opportunity in his SONA last week to take ownership of the Eskom problem, deal decisively with it and provide South Africa a path to a powered future.
But, he said, instead of meeting their expectations, the government and the president were not bold enough to take action.
"SONA was the last chance for the ANC to do the right thing and announce the immediate splitting and privatising of Eskom. What we got instead, were small changes, small concessions, small retreats - too little, too late - if they come to be at all," Mileham said.
He also said while bold action was lacking, the DA welcomed some of the commitments Ramaphosa made about energy transformation.
"The question he must answer is: When? When will all this take place? Because all the president and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy will say is ‘soon’."
Mileham charged that his party has long called on Mantashe to sign the section 34 determinations which were gathering dust on his desk, he asserted.
He said the DA-led City of Cape Town was going ahead with a court action to force the issue because he still had done anything despite a lot of talks.
"We have repeatedly asked him to immediately open bid window 5 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme. But whenever anyone speaks about renewable energy, in any context, Minister Mantashe accuses them of being a lobbyist," said Mileham.
Mileham said Mantashe should have immediately sought to purchase excess power from the existing independent power producers who were constrained to only sell limited quantities to the grid, as determined by their licences and power purchase agreements during stage 6 load-shedding in December.
"Currently, any excess power generated by IPPs goes to waste," said Mileham.
He called on Ramaphosa to open up the electricity market saying the private sector could deliver better, cheaper and more efficiently than Eskom.
"The DA’s Independent Electricity Management Operator Bill is currently before parliament. This would create a separate, independent market operator to purchase electricity from all producers and make our electricity generation sector more competitive.
"We call on all parties in this House to support this," Mileham said.
He said Mantashe was slow to act.
"He is slow to act, reluctant to change the status quo, and absolutely unwilling to upset the unions who are his real masters. Just like the unions are ruling the roost at SAA, it seems the same is true at Eskom," Mileham said.
He also said pensioners' life savings would not be allowed to be thrown into Eskom.
"This is just theft from the poor and the elderly to fund Eskom corruption," he said.