Posts Tagged ‘Minerals & Energy’

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Energy news – budget vote season at Parliament

10 June 2008

The past four weeks have seen Parliament debating the budget votes of the national departments – an annual ritual and a busy time of year for the National Assembly – and Friday was the turn of Minerals and Energy .

Unsurprisingly, DA minerals and energy spokesperson Hendrik Schmidt put the energy crisis front-and-centre in his speech in the debate, saying that the department had been affected by some of the worst crises since 1994.

“It was Cabinet who took the decision not to allow Eskom to expand its generation capacity in order to lure private investment,” said Schmidt. “It was Eskom who warned government that South Africa would run out of power in 2007/8 followed by a failure by Cabinet to heed this advice. It was government who failed to restructure the electricity regulatory environment to attract private business – which was expected to invest billions of rand over a return of a period of 30-40 years. It is shortsightedness, lack of political leadership and vision as well as a failure by this government to give practical effect to the reality of the decision to attract private investment that has lead to the current crisis.”

He reiterated the DA’s call for an independent inquiry into Eskom’s management, and for the restructuring of the electricity sector to encourage private sector investment – a view echoed by a top business group this week.

Eskom was also a key focus of DA spokesperson on public enterprises Manie van Dyk’s speech in that department’s budget vote debate in May. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Government had plenty of warning on Electricity Capacity

4 February 2008

You’ve probably read about the Energy White Paper published in 1998 that predicted that demand for electricity would exceed Eskom’s generated supply in 2006/7 if measures were not taken to increase capacity (e.g. here, here, here and here).

But the warnings didn’t stop there. Besides raising this issue repeatedly in the National Assembly’s Minerals & Energy Portfolio Committee in Parliament between 1999 and 2004, the Democratic Alliance, for one, also highlighted it during the plenary debates on the Minerals & Energy Budget Vote in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.

The DA has justifiably grilled the government for ignoring these warnings in the last couple of weeks, and called for ministers and officials to be held accountable for their poor planning. But we’ve also proposed some immediate and medium-term solutions that go beyond the government’s own rescue plan to restore reliable electricity capacity.

There’s definitely a lack of faith in Eskom’s – and, by extention, the government’s – ability to rectify the problem. They’ve got a lot of work ahead of them to address the crisis, as well as public perceptions of their handling of the situation.