En­ergy short­age a ‘ cri­sis’

Pre­mier Mchunu says state should have acted sooner

The Witness - Wheels - - NEWS - JONATHAN ERAS­MUS

SOUTH Africa’s crit­i­cal en­ergy short­age has been deemed a “cri­sis” by pro­vin­cial Pre­mier Senzo Mchunu.

In a can­did speech at the open­ing of a three- day closed imbizo in Dur­ban for lead­ers across pro­vin­cial and lo­cal gov­ern­ment, Mchunu said the state should have acted sooner to avert the cri­sis.

This was in great con­trast to Eskom — and re­cently Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s claim af­ter his State of the Na­tion ad­dress — that there is “no cri­sis” in South Africa’s en­ergy sec­tor but rather an “en­ergy chal­lenge”.

Mchunu was how­ever much more forth­com­ing. “[ Due to the en­ergy cri­sis] we have se­vere threats to our eco­nomic growth and the in­vest­ment prospects [ of KZN]. There is a need to turn Eskom around. In 2007- 2008 we should have done some­thing so that there would have been no cri­sis now. We should have built more ca­pac­ity.”

He said the prov­ince must iden­tify its role in al­le­vi­at­ing the coun­try’s power woes.

On Fe­bru­ary 28, his of­fice will be meet­ing with En­ergy Min­is­ter Tina Joe­mat- Pet­ters­son. Among the dis­cus­sions will be how the prov­ince can as­sist in ob­tain­ing gas — as an al­ter­na­tive en­ergy source — from Mozam­bique.

Mchunu also con­ceded that cor­rup­tion was a ma­jor prob­lem in the prov­ince and that the “public’s per­cep­tion on cor­rup­tion is not with­out va­lid­ity”.

“It is dif­fi­cult at times to say whether we are mak­ing progress on cor­rup­tion, es­pe­cially in public sec­tor. Peo­ple from in­side gov­ern­ment are the source of con­cern.”

He said it was easy to get in­volved in a col­lu­sive, cor­rupt re­la­tion­ship but get­ting out proved a lot harder. He said of­ten whistle­blow­ers are peo­ple who did not get their “share” from cor­rupt ac­tiv­ity.

“Cor­rup­tion is in gov­ern­ment and we no longer doubt the is­sue. Across gov­ern­ment, where there is a sup­ply chain man­age­ment, there is po­ten­tial for cor­rup­tion.”

Ar­eas that are likely to come un­der dis­cus­sion dur­ing the rest of the Imbizo are the mar­itime in­dus­try, with spe­cial fo­cus on agri­cul­ture and min­ing.

“The prov­ince’s Industrial Devel­op­ment Zones ( Dube Tradeport and Richards Bay IDZ) are show­ing growth. KZN has the po­ten­tial to grow and cre­ate jobs. We are look­ing at min­ing in Zu­l­u­land and New­cas­tle and whether we can re­view the coal mines in that area.”

He said a dis­cus­sion will also be held on how to im­prove com­mer­cial farm­ing and how the sugar in­dus­try can bet­ter max­imise on its crop by, for in­stance, con­vert­ing its sug­ar­cane to bio- diesel.

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