Gareth Cotterell
Digital News Editor
3 minute read
21 Jul 2022
2:02 pm

Ramaphosa asked to act against Mantashe for ignoring renewable energy ultimatum

Gareth Cotterell

Civil society organisations said the lack of response from Mantashe was "disappointing, yet expected", and slammed plans for Eskom 2.0.

President Cyril Ramaphosa and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe at an ANC NEC meeting in Cape Town on 20 May 2019. Photo: Gallo Images/ESA ALEXANDER/SUNDAY TIMES

After being ignored by Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, civil society organisations have now asked President Cyril Ramaphosa to force him to introduce renewable energy to SA’s electricity grid.

The 16 groups had given Mantashe 10 days to respond to an open letter calling for him to open the country’s renewable energy floodgates.

They said wind and solar energy systems, as well as renewable storage capacity, would lessen the severity of load shedding on South Africans.

On Wednesday, the groups said their plea to Mantashe “has been met with silence”.

They are now calling on Ramaphosa to “twist the minister’s arm” to add more renewable energy to the grid.

Mantashe ‘can’t solve SA’s energy crisis’

Peter Becker, spokesperson of the Koeberg Alert Alliance, slammed Mantashe.

“It is becoming clear that the minister does not understand what is needed to solve the energy crisis,” said Becker.

ALSO READ: Load shedding relief: Mantashe given renewable energy ultimatum

He also said the ANC’s proposal to establish another state-owned power utility to compete with Eskom shows there is no concrete plan from government.

“We definitely do not need another state-owned electricity company, or Eskom 2.0. We need everyone working around the clock, including the [department] and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), to use existing regulations and processes to fast track approval of new generation applications and get large scale wind, solar and storage capacity online,” he said.

Mantashe’s silence ‘disappointing, yet expected’

The civil society organisations have given Ramaphosa 10 days to instruct Mantashe to act.

If no action is taken by 29 July 2022, the groups said they will reassess their options to try end the energy crisis.

Thandolwethu Lukuko, coordinator at Climate Action Network South Africa, said the lack of response from Mantashe was “disappointing, yet expected”.

“It shows blatant disregard for the voice of a critical stakeholder group and continues to demonstrate this in the proposal for a new state-owned power utility,” he said.

Lukoko was also critical of Ramaphosa’s acceptance of a second state-owned power utility as a solution for South Africa’s energy woes.

“As a businessman he must understand the time it’ll take to get such an entity to deliver much-needed power to citizens. It cannot and will not happen during his term in office.

ALSO READ: ANC wants to establish second power parastatal to challenge first, failed power parastatal (Eskom)

“The decision flies in the face of reducing red tape and in the unbundling of Eskom, processes we assumed he understood.”

The civil society groups that called for Ramaphosa to act are:

  • 350Africa.org
  • African Climate Alliance
  • Alternative Information and Development Centre (AIDC)
  • Centre for Child Law
  • Centre for Environmental Rights (CER)
  • Extinction Rebellion Cape Town
  • Extinction Rebellion Nelson Mandela Bay
  • Federation for a Sustainable Environment (FSE)
  • Fossil Free South Africa
  • Greenpeace Africa
  • Just Share
  • Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA)
  • Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA)
  • Project 90 by 2030
  • South Africa Climate Action Network (SACAN)
  • Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI)
  • Section 27
  • The Green Connection

NOW READ: ‘Pointless expense’: Energy activist slams R1bn wasted at Koeberg power plant