Johannesburg - Mondli Gungubele, Minister in the Presidency, didn’t touch on the issue of a Cabinet reshuffle, saying that was the prerogative of President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Gungubele wasn’t clear on who would be announced as the minister of electricity or when he or she would be appointed.
Ramaphosa announced last week, during his State of the Nation Address, that an electricity minister would be appointed to deal with the energy crisis as soon as possible. He made public the declaration of a state of disaster.
Yesterday, Gungubele, speaking during a post-Cabinet media conference and outlining what was discussed at a cabinet meeting in Cape Town, failed to tell the nation how much had been allocated since the declaration of the national state of disaster to respond to load shedding that is costing the economy R1 billion a day.
"Cabinet reaffirmed Ramaphosa’s clarion call made in his 2023 Sona for all South Africans to work together and leave no one behind as we tackle our country’s pressing challenges.
“The president’s bold measures put energy at the forefront of the government’s plan of action for the year to deal decisively with load shedding and secure a sustainable energy supply," Gungubele said.
He said the government was addressing the energy crisis with urgency, which is the reason why the minister of electricity is needed to urgently deal with load shedding.
Gungubele said load shedding called for intervention and execution; he said that was something that had to be done immediately.
"The president has said, I will appoint the minister of electricity who will afford and close the gap of the political part of that intervention. And that minister will be empowered to take decisions on any matter that calls for a response to the electricity crisis. Load shedding calls for intervention; it calls for execution; something has to be done; it can't wait for that," Gungubele said.
Cosatu, the ANC's tripartite alliance partner, expressed concern over the lack of consultation about the appointment of the electricity minister.
Cosatu general secretary, Solly Phetoe, said if the government was serious about appointing a minister, it should involve the alliance partners.
"Unfortunately, up to now, we haven’t been engaged in relation to the responsibility of that ministry but also in relation to those regulations," said Phetoe.
At this stage, according to reports, the minister of electricity might be the head of Investment and Infrastructure Development in the Presidency, Kgosientso "Sputla" Ramokgopa. However, Ramokgopa has denied this and stated that he has not met with the president about the matter.
"I think I will continue to serve in my responsibility as the head of investments and infrastructure, and I'm committed to that assignment. Any changes to the executive are a prerogative of the president and he will make the determination at the right time.
“My focus is really on ensuring that we bolster investments into the South African economy and also address the issues of infrastructure that are under serious strain. So that's where my focus is," Ramokgopa said.
When it came to gun violence, Gungubele said Cabinet expressed its condolences to the family and friends of hip-hop artist Kiernan "AKA" Forbes and celebrity chef Tebello Motsoane, who were gunned down outside a restaurant on Florida Road in Durban last Friday.
Gungubele said the cabinet also expressed its sympathies to the family and friends of anti-crime activist Ayob Mungalee, who was recently shot dead at Eldorado Park in Johannesburg.
"Cabinet expressed condolences to the families and friends of those killed in recent mass shootings in the Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, and the Eastern Cape.
“These heinous and cold-blooded attacks, which are being investigated by law enforcement authorities, highlight the prevalence of gun violence and its impact on communities. Cabinet reassures South Africans that the SAPS is being strengthened to prevent crime," Gungubele said.
He said the SAPS was intensifying operations to detect and remove illegal firearms and ammunition from the hands of criminals.
According to Ian Cameron, director of community safety at Action Society, approximately 72 people are killed in South Africa every day, according to The Star this week.
Gungubele said the police have, in the past 12 months, permanently removed 65 519 firearms from circulation.