Energy department survived its worst year yet, says Radebe

Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe told Parliament’s portfolio committee on energy that 2017-18 was the most difficult financial year of the Cabinet department’s existence.

The department was briefing the committee on the department’s annual report for the financial year.

The department has faced instability over the past decade, with Radebe being the third energy minister since 2015. 

Radebe said the lack of stability in the offices of the minister, director general and deputy directors general was felt in the financial health of the department as well as its state of governance.

"All indications are that the 2017-18 financial year was the most challenging that this department has had in its existence. I was the third minister to be placed here in the space of a medium term. Two of the three full-time deputy DGs were on suspension for the greater part of the year," said Radebe.

Lack of capacity, vacant posts

Radebe said that the lack of capacity stymied a number of critical functions for the department, including policy formation and addressing legislation in the energy sector.

"There were a number of vacancies of deputy directors general when I entered office.

"Senior management positions had been vacant and there was an impasse on the IPP matter with a back and forth on the power purchase agreement. The IRP proved difficult to finalise in the year and this impacted on many objectives," Radebe said.

Critical targets missed

Deputy director general for petroleum and petroleum products regulation at the Department of Energy, Tseliso Maqubela, said out of a total of 67 annual performance plan (APP) targets in the 2017-18 financial year, the department achieved 42% and did not achieve 58%.

"Major targets not achieved include the finalisation of the Gas Amendment Bill, the current method of accounting for black economic empowerment, ending delays in finalising the Integrated Resource Plan update and its impact on policy targets, as well as a lack of progress on the solar water heating programme," Maqubela said.

Since being appointed as Minister of Energy by President Cyril Ramaphosa, Radebe has released an updated Integrated Resource Plan and placed Independent Power Producer deals back on the table, which includes renewable energy in the country's energy mix.

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