Energy minister wants to clean house after fuel stock saga

Cape Town – The sale of South Africa’s strategic fuel stock in December 2015 prompted Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi to second her director-general to act as chief executive officer at the Strategic Fuel Fund. 

Addressing journalists after her budget vote speech earlier on Friday, Kubayi said Thabane Zulu, Director-General at the Department of Energy, will act as CEO of the Strategic Fuel Fund. 

Kubayi said the when she came into office in April the report on the strategic fuel stocks confirmed it was a sale, not a rotation of stock. 

READ: MPs demand answers on 'illegal' fuel stock sale 

She said Zulu’s secondment to the SFF is to ensure the process is clean and transparent and not “contaminated”.

 “We’re currently doing the analysis as to who did what and we’ll report back to the country about definite action. We want to move with speed.” 

PetroSA's woes 

At the media briefing, Kubayi was asked about the future of PetroSA, especially in light of reported mismanagement at executive and board level.

Kubayi did not want to elaborate, except to say that she was “unhappy” about the state of affairs.

PetroSA has made huge financial losses in the past two financial years. It projects a financial loss of R2.2bn in the year to end-March 2017, while suffering a loss of more than R14bn in the 2014/15 financial year. 

READ: Central Energy Fund mum on fate of PetroSA board members

Kubayi said the proposed restructuring of the Central Energy Fund will enable her to take full responsibility and fulfil her executive responsibility as the political head of PetroSA. 

“At the moment I have no direct control over PetroSA. If I intervene, I’ll be taken to court and I’ll lose. Any intervention has to be done through the CEF board,” she said. 

BusinessLive recently reported that Central Energy Fund (CEF) chairperson Luvo Makasi allegedly asked PetroSA board members to resign with immediate effect, as a result of the entity’s dismal financial affairs. 

Nuclear process going forward

In her budget speech earlier on Friday, Kubayi reiterated that government will start its nuclear procurement process afresh, but emphasised that it will be transparent. 

She told Fin24 later that nuclear power generation is still part of South Africa's energy mix. “Following the court judgment, we’ll look at where we can strengthen the process.

READ: Nuclear agreements to be signed in June

To this end government will embark on a new process to sign inter-governmental agreements with South Korea, the US, France, China and Russia. “We’ll table these agreements in Parliament within a reasonable time.” 

The Department of Energy will also review all the determinations for nuclear energy and ensure it complies with legislation. 

“Unfortunately we cannot give any timeframes as we need to do the groundwork.” 

Kubayi said the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) will host public hearings about the intended nuclear procurement process. 

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