Carol Paton Writer at Large
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: AFP PHOTO
Gwede Mantashe. Picture: AFP PHOTO

Minister of mineral resources and energy Gwede Mantashe has again refused to be drawn on a date for a new round of procurement for renewable energy.

Asked by DA MP Kevin Mileham during question time in the National Assembly on Wednesday when he planned a new round in the light of the toxic air quality in Mpumalanga, Mantashe said Mileham was “lobbying”.

“If you want a date you can’t have it because you are not an MP; you are a lobbyist,” he said.

Mantashe later withdrew the statement under order of the house chair.

At a press conference to announce the new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) on Friday, Mantashe chastised a journalist for asking a similar question.

The IRP, which is the long-term energy plan that determines the future energy mix, envisages a large increase in renewable energy from less than 5% of capacity to 33% by 2030.

However, the participation of independent power producers in providing renewable energy has become a contentious political issue in the ANC with unions and the EFF arguing that it is a ruse for privatisation.  

Mantashe’s insistence that he will not be pushed into bringing in new renewable energy comes as SA faces a power gap for the next four years in which supply will not be able to meet demand. Of the available energy technologies wind and solar generation are the quickest to bring online.

Mantashe also replied to a question on the proposed legislation on the petroleum industry which is to be separated from regulation of the mining industry.

“The bill will recognise the importance of transformation of the country and will provide for the active participation of black people; it will provide for the minister to initiate a petroleum empowerment charter; and empower the state to participate in the petroleum sector,” he said.

The department of mineral resources & energy has previously said that it is considering legislation that will give the government a 20% free carry share in upstream petroleum.

patonc@businesslive.co.za