Electricity minister’s role as project manager emphasises urgency — Mantashe

Disaster laws give minister too much power, says DA

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe.
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe.
Image: GCIS

Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe and the DA have stuck to their guns on the energy crisis and how it could be resolved.

Mantashe described the soon-to-be appointed minister of electricity as a “project manager”, saying this is by no means “reductionist”.

“Many people asked what this appointment means? We characterised it as a project management approach in dealing with a crisis. Some people in the media say: ‘when we characterise it as project management, we are reducing this ministry and its authority’.

“I think something called school will help them understand that project management is not reductionist. It emphasises urgency of execution and delivery of the project on time. 

“When you talk about the project management approach, one understands there are clear time frames, milestones and a critical path which we must not deviate from,” said Mantashe, emphasising that “this is not reductionist. It’s communicating urgency and a desire to resolve this.”

He used the State of the Nation Address debate at the Cape Town City Hall to defend President Cyril Ramaphosa’s decision to appoint the minister amid criticism that he already had a bloated cabinet.

Slamming the DA, he said in January the party said it would support the declaration of the state of disaster on the energy crisis. “When the state of disaster was declared on February 9 2023 by the president, the same DA pronounced that they will take the ANC government to court and oppose the declaration of the state of disaster. This means they are talking from both sides of their mouths. The DA must throw ideas and we use those ideas to get solutions.”

The DA’s Cilliers Brink reiterated its position that the energy crisis did not require a declaration of the state of disaster in terms of existing legislation governing disaster management.

Cilliers said the lockdown had shown that the Disaster Management Act had serious constitutional defects, “making it a dangerous weapon in the hands of incompetent ministers who only care about command and control”.

“Section 27 gives a single cabinet minister, presently the honourable [Nkosazana] Dlamini-Zuma, the power to decree a national state of disaster, by which she obtains extraordinary law-making and law-breaking powers.”

He said as the law currently stood, it gave the minister extensive power because neither the minister’s decree nor regulations issued under it needed to be tabled or debated in parliament.

“Parliament cannot veto or amend these regulations. And, the decree can be rolled over again and again by the stroke of a ministerial pen, so that the country can in theory be governed under a perpetual national state of disaster.”

Brink blamed the energy crisis on the failure to unbundle Eskom.

“Four years after the president made this announcement, there is still no separate board and entity for electricity transmission, and no progress on upgrading the grid without which we can’t bring on line thousands of KW/hours of wind and solar power.

“The president’s erstwhile adviser Anton Eberhart has confirmed that the minister of public enterprises, the honourable [Pravin] Gordan, is actively blocking Eskom’s unbundling. A minister on his own ideological mission.” — TimesLIVE

Would you like to comment on this article?
Register (it's quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.