EDITORIAL: New minister of electricity won’t bring light

Many people expected President Cyril Ramaphosa to pull a rabbit out of the hat in response to the crippling electricity crisis during his state of the nation address on Thursday.

Instead, the president announced a national state of disaster and plans to appoint a new minister of electricity.

He did not give a detailed account of his government’s handling of the power crisis. It’s not clear what exactly the electricity minister will do.

All Ramaphosa said was that the minister would be based in his office and would oversee anything Eskom and power crisis related. Until now this was the job of Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. However, he said the department of public enterprises would remain a shareholder representative at Eskom, which means Gordhan still retains control despite failing to turn it around.

It is an open secret that Gordhan and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, whose department is the custodian of energy policy, have been at loggerheads. Gordhan advocates for renewal energy and Mantashe for coal. If Gordhan and Mantashe can’t do the job, why not fire them? By creating a new department, Ramaphosa prioritised energy politics rather than tackle the elephant in the room: how those who are pushing for the premature switch from coal to renewal energy have crippled Eskom.

The root cause of the power crisis is bad energy policy, maladministration, corruption and internal sabotage. Ramaphosa avoided these and opted for the easy way out. This will further centralise power in his office, burden the fiscus and increase the wage bill.


ANC’s promise on crime is totally out of touch with reality

In his post-ANC lekgotla address President Cyril Ramaphosa said his party would ensure the government ended crime by 2030. It was one of the party’s resolutions after a three-day meeting to set priorities for the year. The feasibility of achieving this feat in the time frame is so casual and out of touch with the safety concerns of South Africans.

The country is among the most unsafe in the world, with one of the highest crime statistics. Each year, Police Minister Bheki Cele paints a grim picture of safety in the country, with violent crimes such as rape, murder and robbery increasing. Recently, young women were accosted and raped allegedly by a group of miners at a dumping site in Krugersdorp.

Last year, scores of people were killed after being sprayed with bullets in taverns across the country. In the wake of this reality, it’s ludicrous for the governing party to be contemplating ending crime only in seven years’ time when citizens are at the receiving end of violence daily. It suggests a chronic lack of urgency, lack of political will or plain incompetence. The same attitude seems to be behind the party’s failure to deal with the crippling power crisis, which has destroyed businesses and affected ordinary people since 2008.

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