The DA has today written to Parliament requesting that it calls on Ministers who serve in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s National Energy Crisis Committee (NECOM) to come and account for the country’s worsening electricity crisis.
To this end, we have asked Chairpersons of the portfolio committees on Public Enterprises and, Mineral Resources and Energy to ask Ministers who serve in these portfolios to come and account on the steps that they have taken to address the crisis.
Loadshedding has escalated to such critical levels that, since the announcement of Ramaphosa’s Energy Response Plan, South Africa seems to have been placed on a semi-permanent loadshedding schedule where blackouts occur on a daily basis.
Established for the express purpose of addressing the crisis, NECOM has however chosen to operate in the shadows and has refused to be publicly accountable. In fact, on 27 September 2022, in a presentation that was made by Eskom before the joint Portfolio Committee of Public Enterprises and the Portfolio Committee of Mineral Resources and Energy, Eskom conceded that they were “…not at liberty to disclose information from them (NECOM)…[as they were] classified as secret…”.
At a time when South Africans are calling for transparency and accountability on the electricity crisis, and despite having presided over one of the worst loadshedding episodes since they were appointed, NECOM Ministers have instead opted to operate like a secret society.
Parliament should not abdicate on its responsibilities to hold the Executive to account and should be at the forefront of enforcing accountability over the work of NECOM. The wall of silence that NECOM has built around itself must be broken down and the Ministers must play open cards with South Africans on the true extent of the crisis that the country is facing and what is being done about it.
The electricity crisis has crippled the economy to such an extent that the country is losing tens of billions of rand in lost productivity and potential investment. Instead of being publicly accountable, NECOM Ministers have chosen to keep the country in the dark by keeping its deliberations top secret.
Once again the default Command and Control position of the ANC government is brought to bear in a time when the nation, reeling from crippling rolling blackouts, needs to be taken into confidence. Transparency in the face of this ANC-generated debacle is required. The DA will not remain silent on this and will demand that the deliberations and initiatives are made public so that they can be monitored for efficiency and in order that parliament is empowered to conduct proper oversight.