DA) chief whip Natasha Mazzone. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency(ANA

Durban – Democratic Alliance (DA) chief whip Natasha Mazzone has said that if President Cyril Ramaphosa was serious about opening up the country’s power grid for extra electricity supply, he should have given timelines in his state of the nation address (SONA).

Mazzone was speaking to media outside Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday night after Ramaphosa ended his speech. 

“No definitive timelines were given, so while we hear the president wants this new electricity, he wants to open the grid up, he must give us a timeline: It will be opened up from tomorrow, it will be opened up in seven days time.

“We need electricity now in our country and there is no reason we shouldn’t be procuring this energy as early as tomorrow.”

She said the laws that were “sitting on his desk” needed to be signed by Ramaphosa before additional generation could be made a reality.

Mazzone also questioned Ramaphosa’s handling of other state-owned entities during his address, saying she found it "worrying" that the president had not spoken at length about SAA - under business rescue - and did not mention Denel.

“These are problem areas, because we get told about state capture and that it has stopped, but if you looked at the benches in Parliament tonight, you would have seen many of the people implicated in state capture at entities like SAA, Denel and Eskom.

“So until we have some high profile arrests, no one is really going to take these issues seriously.”  

She said civil servants were “panicking” over their pensions potentially being used to bail out the entities.

Cosatu last week suggested a pension bailout for Eskom, which has seemingly been welcomed by Ramaphosa and Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The power utility has debt of R450 billion, and according to Cosatu, an injection of about R250 billion from the pensions was a viable option.

In his speech, Ramaphosa said that citizens had been contending with a constrained energy supply for over a decade, and that renewed load shedding had a “debilitating” effect on the economy.

He said renewable energy, natural gas, hydro power and battery storage would be used to a greater extent in the country’s energy mix and emergency power would be bought from projects that were able to deliver electricity into the grid within three to 12 months from approval.

The country’s national energy regulator would continue to register small scale distributed generation for own use of under 1 MW, for which no licence was required, he said.

This would ensure all applications by commercial and industrial users to produce electricity for own use above 1MW were processed within the prescribed 120 days.

“It should be noted that there is now no limit to installed capacity above 1MW,” said Ramaphosa.

“We will open bid window 5 of the renewable energy IPP and work with producers to accelerate the completion of window 4 projects.

“We will negotiate supplementary power purchase agreements to acquire additional capacity from existing wind and solar plants.

“We will also put in place measures to enable municipalities in good financial standing to procure their own power from independent power producers,” said the president.

- African News Agency (ANA); Editing by Naomi Mackay