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Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe. File picture: ESA ALEXANDER / SUNDAY TIMES
Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe. File picture: ESA ALEXANDER / SUNDAY TIMES

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe has hit back at criticism he is to blame for Eskom's continuing blackouts after the embattled power utility plunged SA into stage 6 load-shedding this week. 

Many displeased South Africans, including the DA, said Mantashe should be fired because of Eskom's electricity crisis. 

Ahead of stage 6 being implemented, the opposition said blackouts highlighted “the failures of the ANC government, and in particular a string of energy ministers and Eskom war rooms.”

“Gwede Mantashe, however, deserves singling out. As the minister responsible for securing SA’s electricity needs and planning its energy future, he has been obstructive and combative in his approach to dealing with proposed solutions. 

“Mantashe has proven to be a complete failure when it comes to managing SA’s energy crisis.”

Speaking to News24, Mantashe said it was unfair that he was being blamed for load-shedding.

“It's unfair to place blame on myself or the government. What should I do with Eskom as mineral resources and energy minister? The power utility is a matter [which falls] under public enterprises,” said Mantashe.

He said the government has gone the extra mile by instituting a supplementary programme to make up for the shortcomings at Eskom. 

The programme Mantashe was referring to is the bid windows one, two, three, and four of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

“We are actually implementing the supplementary programme aggressively, but the more we implement it, the worse Eskom becomes. What do I do with that?” he said.

Previously, Mantashe criticised Eskom’s management, saying he could not understand why the power utility was resorting to load-shedding when it allegedly had enough electricity in its reserves. 

This was after the power utility announced load-shedding would be reduced to stage 2 and revert to stage 3. 

Speaking on eNCA, Mantashe said Eskom should be using more of its reserve capacity. 

According to him, Eskom has access to about 6,000MW of extra reserve capacity that could be used to avoid load-shedding.

“I hear this 6,000MW but I know Eskom is having 45,000MW connected capacity. It operates at 30,000MW. Therefore, the shortfall of 15,000MW is on the suboptimal operation of Eskom,” Mantashe said.

“As we implement the supplementary programme to boost generation, Eskom can also be optimised. They have 15,000MW that is idle. There is a lot of energy that is not used because of one reason or another,” he said. 

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