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ANC’s electricity minister vision; ‘project manager’ and Ramaphosa’s eye at Eskom

ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula.

ANC Secretary General Fikile Mbalula.

  • ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula lauded every part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address. 
  • Mbalula explained on Friday that the electricity ministry would help boost the country’s efforts of ending load shedding. 
  • He said the electricity minister would act as a project manager and Ramaphosa’s eye at Eskom. 

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has moved to bat heavily for introducing an electricity minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s office, saying the role will not have a budget but act simply as project manager. 

Ramaphosa announced during his State of the Nation Address that he would appoint a minister to the Presidency to deal with the energy crisis plaguing Eskom. 

This position will be in his office, overseeing Eskom’s energy crisis plans and ensuring the power utility can manoeuvre the country from load shedding.

The president also announced that a national state of disaster had been declared for the country. 

The two crucial announcements from his speech received a mixed reactions from political quarters. 

Mbalula said the minister of electricity was a welcomed intervention by the president, and the ANC saw hope in a plan to tackle the country’s energy crisis. 

READ | Power grab: Ramaphosa looks for electricity czar, faces court action over state of disaster

He said the ministry would act as a “project manager” and advise the president on the stability of the energy supply concern.

On Friday at an ANC post-SONA briefing, Mbalula said the minister appointed to fill the position was expected to “breathe, eat and live at Eskom”. 

He said that coupled with the declaration of a national state of disaster, the ANC felt hopeful. He hinted that the electricity ministry position was only envisioned to last for a while and that if load shedding subsided or ended – the ministry could also be dissolved.  

The role would not have a budget, and whoever takes the role would rely on the staff contingency within the Presidency. 

“Minister of electricity is an intervention and not part of reconfiguration. It could end with the end of load shedding. This minister will be given a mandate, further refined, so there are no bullies in the system who say this is my territory. The minister of electricity will live, eat, and breathe at Eskom and update us,” Mbalula said. 

“This position is to be a project manager of Eskom, so the president can speak from an informed position. There will be no deputy minister. We are faced with a momentous crisis for this country in terms of business and SA as a brand. It tells a story about us and blackouts. We are facing a disaster, and we need to arrest it,” Mbalula said. 

He said the ANC still had plans to move Eskom from the department of public enterprises to the ministry of energy and resources. 

This was a decision taken at the ANC national conference in December. 

READ | Carol Paton: Ramaphosa’s desperate energy measures have set SA up for disappointment again

He said Ramaphosa and the ANC’s plans of reconfiguring government departments had not been abandoned. 

Mbalula compared the ANC’s vision for reconfiguring to China’s communist party-run government. 

In response to fears that the national state of disaster would be abused similar to the Covid-19 declaration, Mbalula said that systems would be put in place to ensure what happened in 2020 does not reoccur. 

“Concerns are not far fetched and we have given you firm commitment. Expenditure will not be allowed to get out of hand. We must not allow state of disaster like we saw in the past to repeat itself at the moment, there are check and balances,” Mbalula said. 

Parliament ‘warzone’

Mbalula described the EFF’s behaviour at SONA on Thursday as political demagoguery. 

He said Parliament was turned into a warzone as EFF MPs ‘charged’ on stage towards Ramaphosa in attempt to prevent him from giving his SONA address. 

“We support the actions taken by the Speaker. The sideshow will be dealt with according to the law and the prescripts of Parliament. We are happy that the state of the nation was delivered,” Mbalula said. 

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