Energy shortage a ‘crisis’

2015-02-19 00:00

SOUTH Africa’s critical energy shortage has been deemed a “crisis” by provincial Premier Senzo Mchunu.

In a candid speech at the opening of a three-day closed imbizo in Durban for leaders across provincial and local ­government, Mchunu said the state should have acted sooner to avert the ­crisis.

This was in great contrast to Eskom — and recently President Jacob Zuma’s claim after his State of the Nation address — that there is “no crisis” in South Africa’s energy sector but rather an “energy challenge”.

Mchunu was however much more forthcoming. “[Due to the energy crisis] we have severe threats to our economic growth and the investment prospects [of KZN]. There is a need to turn Eskom around. In 2007-2008 we should have done something so that there would have been no crisis now. We should have built more capacity.”

He said the province must identify its role in alleviating the country’s power woes.

On February 28, his office will be ­meeting with Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. Among the discussions will be how the province can assist in obtaining gas — as an alternative energy source — from Mozambique.

Mchunu also conceded that corruption was a major problem in the province and that the “public’s perception on ­corruption is not without validity”.

“It is difficult at times to say whether we are making progress on corruption, especially in public sector. People from inside government are the source of concern.”

He said it was easy to get involved in a collusive, corrupt relationship but getting out proved a lot harder. He said often whistleblowers are people who did not get their “share” from corrupt activity.

“Corruption is in government and we no longer doubt the issue. Across ­government, where there is a supply chain management, there is potential for ­corruption.”

Areas that are likely to come under ­discussion during the rest of the Imbizo are the maritime industry, with special ­focus on agriculture and mining.

“The province’s Industrial Development Zones (Dube Tradeport and ­Richards Bay IDZ) are showing growth. KZN has the potential to grow and create jobs. We are looking at mining in Zululand and Newcastle and whether we can review the coal mines in that area.”

He said a discussion will also be held on how to improve commercial farming and how the sugar industry can better maximise on its crop by, for instance, ­converting its sugarcane to bio-diesel.

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