Johannesburg - Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa will soon be equipped with the powers required to carry out his mandate.
In February, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that he would appoint the electricity minister to deal with the energy crisis, and in March he announced Ramokgopa as the man for the job; however, that appointment came without the requisite powers.
Due to the lack of powers, Ramaphosa faced harsh criticism from energy experts, political parties, and ordinary South Africans.
Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya revealed this during a media briefing in Tshwane yesterday.
“A proclamation has now been signed to expedite this process and will be gazetted soon,” said Magwenya.
Ramokgopa visited Kusile power station in Mpumalanga yesterday to receive a status report on the units there: three units are out of commission.
He said work in the three units remains on track, and he believes that getting them back in service will boost capacity to somewhat ease the crippling load shedding catastrophe.
Ramokgopa said the government has taken steps to improve the performance of Eskom’s existing coal fleet as part of a resolution to load shedding.
“The visit to Kusile forms part of our efforts to ensure the power station is on track to produce the much-needed megawatts,” Ramokgopa said.
In March, Ramakgopa visited power stations such as Kendal, Kusile, Duvha, Matla, and Camden to monitor the reduction of power outages. However, he came under severe criticism and some South Africans called him the minister of visits and taking pictures.
“Last time I was here, management indicated that they would be bringing the three units back; the last one will be brought back by December 24, 2023, and the first one of the three will be brought back on November 28, 2023; and the second one by December 11, 2023.
“So we are here just to check progress; we did have an intense meeting with management. I must say I want to compliment management on the work they have done,” said Ramokgopa.
He said the three units at Kusile that will come on will give the country 2 400MW, and unit five that will be fully on stream in April, 2024 will be about 3 200MW.
“If we were to get these three units back, I think we would have made significant advances in the resolution of load shedding. We are on track; the civil works are done, so you can see that they are doing the temporary stacks, and we do remain on track,” he said.
Ramokgopa conducted inspections of the construction project busy taking place at Kusile.
Last week, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula said load shedding would end before the end of this year; however, Ramokgopa disputed the claim.
“I am on record saying that it doesn’t look like we can end load shedding by the end of the year,” Ramokgopa said.
South Africans took to Twitter in reaction to Ramakgopa’s visit.
“He loves pictures, yhooooo… You can see when he gets out of the car he needs someone to take pictures (rather) than fix the electricity issues. What has he done since the day he was given that position?” asked Nathi Radebe.