A leading South African environmental group has criticised the government’s choice of representatives to a newly created energy advisory body, saying their corporate history made them unsuitable for the task.
Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa recently appointed a high profile team to lead the Energy Council that would help the government deal with the energy crisis.
Ramaphosa told Parliament on Wednesday that the board was busy appointing members to the Energy Council.
Former Ashanti Gold boss, Bobby Godsell and the Spoornet chief executive officer Dolly Mokgatle were appointed to serve in the council.
However, Bobby Peek of the influential environmental group – GrowundWork – said it was “very disturbed by the appointments’ of the two.
Peek said Moorgate was part of the disastrous Pebble modular reactor project that cost South Africa billions of rinds before it was shelved.
Groundwork also hit out at God sell’s appointment saying he was part of the Chamber of Mines, which lobbied for cheap electricity so that corporates could make profits.
Peek said he was aware that Godsell as the former chairperson of the country’s power utility, Eskom, had called for cheap electricity but ‘he doesn’t have the collective buy-in from big business to reduce the cost of electricity.’
GroundWork said a solution to the country’s energy crisis could be found through dialogue involving communities and labour organisations.
“The (the ruling African National Congress) ANC is being put under pressure to produce cheap electricity to big business, there are 12 million people without electricity and communities are paying high prices for electricity,” Peek said.
“We need to have a democratic dialogue on how best to move out of this crisis.”
Ramaphosa told Parliament that the power crisis was a major concern and the government was ‘pursuing all feasible ways of supplying electricity’.
“This includes … co-generation with the private sector and entering into contracts with independent power producers (IPPs),” he said. “This process is under way and a number of negotiations are currently being held.”
IPPs provide about 800 megawatts of electricity power to Eskom through short-term co-generation contracts, Ramaphosa said.
Meanwhile, Eskom has also been plunged into crisis after the shock announcement that several executives including the chief executive officer, Tsediso Matona had been suspended.
The leading Confederation of South African Trade Unions said: “the seemingly endless crisis at Eskom is a cause of extreme concern to the whole country and the suspension of the CEO and three other executives was just the latest symptom of deep-seated problems to which no solution is in sight.”