Ramaphosa Sets Powers for Minister to Address Energy Crisis

(Bloomberg) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa allocated a range of powers to his electricity minister to help address the nation’s energy crisis, almost three months after appointing him.

Most Read from Bloomberg

The announcement transfers some responsibilities away from Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, who has faced criticism for stifling the government’s efforts to transition away from the use of coal, which is used to produce most of the nation’s electricity, and buy more green energy.

“This proclamation will provide the minister of electricity with the powers necessary to direct the procurement of new generation capacity and ensure security of supply,” the presidency said in a statement on Friday. “The president’s delineation of powers and functions is directed at ensuring effective coordination and dedicated focus to deal more effectively and urgently with the electricity crisis.”

Ramaphosa has drawn censure from local companies for delaying giving Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, who was appointed March 7, the authority he needs to deal with record blackouts that are hobbling Africa’s most-industrialized economy. The outages have fueled investor concern about the outlook for economic growth and dragged the rand to record lows against the dollar this year.

Read More: How South Africa’s Blackouts Went From Bad to Worse: QuickTake

Ramokgopa will be able to determine which energy sources should be used to generate additional electricity, the presidency said. He’s also been given the authority to enable private-sector participation in the procurement of new capacity.

As South Africa’s electricity shortages have grown more severe, a number of government measures to increase supply have failed to show much progress.

Ramaphosa in July doubled the procurement of renewable auctions, but the national grid has limited connections for projects in some regions. A number of processes overseen by Mantashe to buy in additional generation capacity have been dogged by delays and legal challenges.

The powers transferred to Ramokgopa from Mantashe include those under parts 1 and 2 of section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act, according to a Government Gazette published on Friday. The official notice didn’t provide further details.

The allocation of powers effectively puts two ministers in charge of the act, the main opposition Democratic Alliance said in a statement.

“This is certain to exacerbate the confusion between the two Ministers and precipitate the continuation of mixed messaging in the midst a national electricity crisis,” it said.

Mantashe didn’t answer calls to his mobile phone when Bloomberg sought comment.

(Updates with allocation of powers under Electricity Regulation Act in eighth paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2023 Bloomberg L.P.