South Africa

Energy minister Ramokgoba says new powers will help him end load shedding

Kgosientsho Ramokgopa

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa on Saturday said the new powers given to him by President Cyril Ramaphosa will give him more authority to bring about an end to load shedding.

On Friday, the Presidency confirmed that Ramaphosa had transferred electricity generation powers from Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe to Ramokgopa.

“It does make a big difference, because now [I am] able to execute my mandate with some degree of authority that derives from a piece of legislation. It also helps to ensure that there are clear lines of accountability.”

Ramokgoba’s powers resolved

Ramokgoba, speaking to eNCA on Saturday, said now that his role and powers have been resolved, he can focus on solving the load shedding crisis in South Africa.

“It delineates the responsibilities, and [creates] clarity between the ministers in the ecosystem. We’re now not just relying on personal relationships but legislation.”

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa gives Ramokgopa more powers, but Mantashe also gets to keep some

After widespread reports that Ramokgoba, Gordhan and Mantashe had butted heads over the electricity crisis, the electricity minister disagreed with the suggestion that one of the ministers has to take a leading role in fixing load shedding.

“There has to be a multiplicity of interventions,” he said.

Ramokgoba said he will still have to work with Mantashe and Gordhan to ensure that Eskom prioritises new energy generation.

Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital

Ramokgopa said this on Saturday after meeting with officials from the Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital to discuss whether health facilities can be exempt from load shedding.

“The state has a duty to ensure there is uninterrupted supply of energy to everyone, particularly strategic installation. Hospitals are in that category,” he said.

ALSO READ: Government appealing load shedding court ruling to avoid grid collapse – Ramaphosa

He said this included renewable energy solutions, so that the hospitals aren’t only reliant on Eskom and municipalities.

The minister said implementing these alternative energy solutions would be gradual and require a lot of money.

To supply sustainable energy to the 137 hospitals identified around South Africa would cost R10.1 billion. This includes battery and solar solutions.

Gauteng Health MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko welcomed the talks with Ramokgoba to keep the power on at hospitals.

She said surgeries are halted when load shedding starts, which could lead to a loss of lives.

“We can’t take anyone to the theatre. We have 35 theatres here at Bara alone. We cancel operations. That’s the main problem. Even the food that we have, you find that we can’t provide food to the patients. Because it’s not the right food and we don’t have stoves.”

ALSO READ: SA unlikely to experience complete blackout, says Ramokgopa