NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TUESDAY, 18 MAY MINI PLENARIES (VIRTUAL) 14:00 – 16:15 Vote 34: Mineral Resources and Energy 

Hon. CT Msimang

 

Honourable Members, amidst the damaging economic impact of the pandemic that has stripped millions of our people of employment, South Africa experienced 859 hours of load-shedding in 2020 alone. This is according to a recent report by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research relating to power generation in our country.

Honourable Members, this alarming fact must sink in. How can we begin to talk of economic recovery when our Government is crippling business owners in these already dire and uncertain times? On Sunday 16 May, Eskom once again announced that Stage 2 load-shedding would be implemented. The grim reality is that load-shedding will be with us for years to come. In addition to the strain felt by load-shedding, we are also faced with an average increase of 15% in electricity tariffs. How do we expect the small business owner to have a fighting chance in these circumstances?

In his 2021 State of the Nation Address, the President spoke about renewing commitments from government and businesses to buy local and to increase local production, as well as boost the manufacturing industry. However, Honourable Members – these promises ring hollow in the face of rising electricity tariffs and power shortages.

The IFP has always championed the principle of self-reliance and therefore supports raising the licensing threshold for electricity generation. We wholeheartedly agree with the Committee that the finalisation of the recent electricity regulations that propose raising the threshold for electricity generation should be expedited.

The IFP also strongly supports the Committee’s recommendation that the Department should provide an update to the Committee on the proposed Nuclear New Build Programme, with specific emphasis on affordability, as well as the scale and pace of such a Programme. Honourable Members, the need for transparency – especially considering our Government’s past controversial dealings in this regard – cannot be overemphasised.

Honourable Members, the debate on shale gas exploration in the Karoo remains a highly contested matter and significant concerns have been raised about the potential impact thereof on this unique region. As far as we know, the Council for Geosciences was mandated to investigate the resource potential in the Karoo. We need to carefully monitor progress reports on this matter and the IFP fully supports the Committee’s recommendation to this effect.

In conclusion, Honourable Members, the energy sector remains a critical part of our economy. In these dire economic times, we need to ask the tough questions, we need to carefully analyse the performance of each Programme of the Department and its entities, and we need to demand accountability.

The IFP remains firm in our resolve to ensure that accountability and transparency are enforced.

The IFP supports the Committee’s Report.