Energy department says IPP head ouster was done to stabilise office

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy released a statement on Tuesday evening seeking to clarify the circumstances surrounding the removal of the Independent Power Producers Office's head, Karen Breytenbach, saying the move was aimed at restoring stability to the office.

The statement came on a day that DA Members of Parliament demanded Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe explain the circumstances surrounding Breytenbach's ouster.

The IPP Office confirmed to media on Monday that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy asked Breytenbach to vacate her position.

The statement said the Department of Energy, as the Chair of the joint implementation committee mandated to oversee the office’s governance, requested a meeting to address issues creating operational instability at the IPP Office.

"These matters had a negative impact on the IPP Office and, if unresolved as a matter of urgency, had potential to destabilise operations and affect personnel negatively," the statement said. 

The statement said the joint implementation committee unanimously agreed that the current situation was untenable and that urgent action should be taken to create stability at the IPP Office.

"This decision is taken approximately five months after the expiry of contract of the Head of IPP Office. Since expiry of the contract, it has become clear to the Department that it is not possible to resolve the appointment of the Head of the IPP Office under the current circumstances," it read.

The statement maintained that the IPP Office continues to play an important role in providing process certainty for private funding to enter the power generation market, therefore it is important that our decision to stabilise operations and to strengthen governance is communicated effectively.

"We envisage to have a newly established institution that will have its own governance structure, in accordance with the Public Finance Management Act and other applicable legislation to institutions of a similar nature," the statement said.

DA MP Kevin Mileham said during a statement that Breytenbach's ouster came as a shock as she was well respected in the sector and was effectively overseeing the governance of renewable energy projects.

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