The recent spate of load shedding has stifled economic activity and caused disruptions in people’s lives. It is also true that cynical political point-scoring and grandstanding from some quarters has saturated public discourse around this matter – and not casting any light on practical measures and solutions, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Energy Mr Fikile Majola told members of the Extended Public Committee (EPC) during the budget debate on Energy yesterday at Parliament.
“Those of us in this House who are the primary agents and custodians of the democratic and socio-economic transformation, know that we have come this far in the face of massive challenges simply because we have always understood and tackled the challenges in our world as they really are not as we think or wish they are,” said Mr Majola.
He said he was confident that South Africans are practical people with the ultimate historic responsibility and dedication to changing South Africa.
“So, for us the pressing challenges of the moment are not cause for alarm and despair or even indulgence in idle ideological debates around the future of Eskom,” added Mr Majola. He said Eskom will continue to have a leading and strategic role in the provision of energy, including in the future new build programmes.
In supporting the Department of Energy’s 201516 budget, Mr Majola said his Committee knew that the people of South Africa are interested in effective implementation of a realistic and sustainable package of measures to address the challenges that Eskom is facing at the moment.
“The solid government’s track record assures our people that our country is up to the challenge of meeting its electricity requirements, including ensuring that a total of 1.4 million households are connected to the national grid by March 2019, 75% of which are in rural areas,” said Mr Majola.
Delivering the budget vote speech, the Minister of Energy Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson attributed the challenges that Eskom is facing to the serious problems that were created by South Africa’s lack of timely coordination of planning, alignment and implementation of the country’s energy programmes. “I want to reassure South Africans that the load shedding which prevails is receiving our highest priority for urgent solution,” said Ms Joemat-Pettersson.
Ms Joemat-Pettersson told the members of the EPC that partnerships have been established between government, labour, business and civil society to find solutions to Eskom problems in keeping with the great spirit of South Africans. “Our government’s urgent response to load shedding has accelerated the finalisation of the much-awaited Integrated Energy Plan,” said Ms Joemat-Pettersson.
Once the plan is approved by Cabinet, according to Ms Joemat-Pettersson, it will be published as a policy document which will inform the country’s future energy mix and prioritise policy interventions for future programmes within the energy sector.
Members of the EPC highlighted the importance of a capacitated and stable Eskom in order to ensure the translation of the National Development Plan into a better life for all South Africans.
They warned against the rising costs of electricity and said if they continue at the current rate, the average household in South Africa will be paying about R100 000 a month for using electricity by the year 2030.
Source : Parliament of South Africa