Right to be paranoid

10th March 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


Font size: - +

Some of the reactions to the regulations that were belatedly published to give effect to the state of disaster declared to tackle South Africa’s more-than-decade-old electricity crisis could be dismissed as paranoid and alarmist.

However, given the trust deficit that now prevails around public procurement in general, as well as the more specific allegations that criminal coal syndicates have tentacles that reach all the way to Cabinet, such paranoia and alarm is more than justified.

As stated previously in this column, it is far from clear that a state of disaster is really required or legally defensible to address the generation and grid backlogs that have led to daily loadshedding.

The solutions as mapped out by the National Energy Crisis Committee should be urgently implemented, but none are able to close the supply/demand deficit overnight. These actions will take months, more likely years, to implement with or without a state of disaster.

True, Regulation 5(1)(i) which empowers the relevant Cabinet member to issue directions “excluding upgrades, refurbishments, adjustments and repairs of existing energy infrastructure and existing generation, transmission and distribution facilities” from environmental legislation could well be used to facilitate the temporary exemption needed by Kusile to return three units to service a full year earlier than would otherwise be the case.

However, that exemption could well have been secured under existing frameworks. And even if it were challenged legally, both Eskom and the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment would have had a strong case to request that it be dealt with on an urgent basis, given that the absence of the Kusile units is adding two stages of loadshedding currently. A legal challenge may well have also been important for ensuring that the pollution exemption is indeed only a temporary one.

More worrying is Regulation 5(1)(d) which enables “implementing measures to remove impediments to the development or construction of new generation capacity”, particularly when coupled with Regulation 6 that outlines the exemptions allowed under “emergency procurement procedures” and Regulation 5(1)(h), which enables a “streamlining” of environmental decision-making processes.

Taken together, there is potential for either expensive mistakes or, worse yet, calculated misappropriation and corruption.

There is little doubt that South Africa’s tolerance for grand-scale theft is now less than paper thin.

Therefore, should these regulations be perceived to be opening the way for potential corruption, there is every chance that the backlash will move well beyond the relative shelter of the country’s courtrooms and could well spill on to the streets.

The anger is now palpable, particularly given the increasingly clear line of sight between failings at Eskom and political leaders near to the very top of government.

That, too, explains why the current paranoia is justified.

Edited by Terence Creamer
Creamer Media Editor


Latest News

Image shows Rio Tinto logo
Another Rio blast damages rock shelter
22nd September 2023 By: Esmarie Iannucci


Booyco Electronics
Booyco Electronics

Booyco Electronics, South African pioneer of Proximity Detection Systems, offers safety solutions for underground and surface mining, quarrying,...

Booyco Electronics
Booyco Electronics

Booyco Electronics, South African pioneer of Proximity Detection Systems, offers safety solutions for underground and surface mining, quarrying,...


Latest Multimedia

sponsored by

Photo of Martin Creamer
ARM, GoldOre, Gautrain make headlines
22nd September 2023
Magazine cover image
Magazine round up | 22 September 2023
22nd September 2023
Resources Watch image
Resources Watch
21st September 2023

Option 1 (equivalent of R125 a month):

Receive a weekly copy of Creamer Media's Engineering News & Mining Weekly magazine
(print copy for those in South Africa and e-magazine for those outside of South Africa)
Receive daily email newsletters
Access to full search results
Access archive of magazine back copies
Access to Projects in Progress
Access to ONE Research Report of your choice in PDF format

Option 2 (equivalent of R375 a month):

All benefits from Option 1
Access to Creamer Media's Research Channel Africa for ALL Research Reports, in PDF format, on various industrial and mining sectors including Electricity; Water; Energy Transition; Hydrogen; Roads, Rail and Ports; Coal; Gold; Platinum; Battery Metals; etc.

Already a subscriber?

Forgotten your password?







sq:0.062 0.098s - 92pq - 2rq
Subscribe Now