Mantashe on state capture: An attack on deployment is an attack on transformation, democracy

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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Felix Dlangamandla/Netwerk24
  • Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe says attacks on deployment amount to an attack on transformation and democracy.
  • The minister said that destroying the coal sector particularly would "hurt" the country's transformation agenda.
  • He also warned that legal challenges to exploration would essentially drive away investors.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has warned that the state capture report may launch heavy attacks on deployment - and by extension, transformation and democracy.

The minister delivered a keynote address at the gala dinner of the Energy Summit, hosted by the South African Youth Economic Council on Thursday evening. His address focused on the country's just energy transition, but he also used the opportunity briefly to address the Zondo Commission's report on state capture.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged members of the ANC to read the report, the first part of which was released last week. The report has shown that the ANC benefited from the proceeds of corruption, and the party's deployment committee came under scrutiny for endorsing individuals who presided over the capture of state entities, News24 reported.

Mantashe shared that he was reading the first part of the report and was on page 468 of 874. "That report, I am warning you, you are going to see a heavy attack on something called deployment. It will be presented as the ANC wanting to run a parallel system."

Mantashe said that in the past, every head of department in the state was a white male, and companies were headed by white males. The ANC changed that situation - by intervening "deliberately" in the system.

"It is not an attack on deployment, it is an attack on democracy and transformation," he said.

Addressing transformation in mining, Mantashe said that the coal sector had actually made progress. The emergence of black capital in the country's Minerals Energy Complex, which was originally exclusively white, is a positive development in deracialising the economy, he explained. Destroying the coal sector would "hurt" the transformation agenda, he added.

'Coal fundamentalist'

Mantashe noted that he has been labelled as a "coal fundamentalist" and a "fossil fuel dinosaur" but insisted that exiting coal in order to honour international climate change commitments must be done systematically.

Mantashe referred to the tension between reducing emissions by providing "clean" power and the economic impact of the coal sector, particularly peoples' livelihoods. Considering the stretch of coal mines and coal-fired power stations between Mpumalanga towns Belfast and Delmas, Mantashe said that it wasn't about the coal in the area but rather the people who are dependent on coal for their livelihoods - and that is what the just energy transition must address.

"Any programme we take must be systematic, it must protect livelihoods and it must protect lives."

Secure energy supply shouldn’t only be about the cleanliness of energy, but there must also be considerations of addressing energy poverty so that people can access and meaningfully benefit from energy, he said.

"We will breathe fresh air, but in darkness," he quipped.

"You do not destroy what you have, on the basis of hope that something better is coming. You build for the future on what you know and what you have. That approach to me is scientific, systematic and protects the present ability of the state to supply energy to people."
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe

Addressing the R131 billion offer pledged to South Africa by the UK, US, France and Germany during COP26 late last year, Mantashe said that this money won't simply be given. "They will not give us that money, they will give [it to] us if we take it as a loan bearing interest rates. That is how it works, that is what the world is like," said Mantashe.

He said small economies are in danger of becoming a "conduit" of ideas of developed economies. That suppresses an developing economy's ability to determine its own development trajectory, he argued.

Instead, developing economies must insist that industrialised economies - big polluters - take responsibility, he said.

The minister also addressed the recent legal challenges to Shell's seismic survey off the Wild Coast. In December, the Makhanda High Court granted an interim interdict to halt Shell’s seismic survey - pending a court ruling on whether the company requires fresh environmental authorisation. Mantashe said that legal challenges such as these have the effect of driving away investors.

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