SAFCEI requests accountable terms of reference for Minister’s advisory council

28th July 2014

 

Minister T. Joemat-Pettersson

Minister of Energy

Private Bag X 96, Pretoria, 0001

 

For attention: Mr Duncan Hindle, Mr Gareth Bezuidenhout

Department of Energy   

 

duncan.hindle@energy.gov.za

gareth.bezuidenhout@energy.gov.za

 

cc Ms Rhoda Makier

Personal Assistant to the Minister

 
Rhoda.Mackier@energy.gov.za

 

Dear Minister,

URGENT: Request for Clarity regarding nominations to the Minister of Energy’s advisory council

Further to our correspondence on the 23rd, and in response to Mr Hindle’s reply, we would request further clarity.

Mr Hindle indicated that there was no closing date but the advert specifically refers to the 31st as the closing date for nominations.   If there is no closing date, what relevance does the 31st have?

SAFCEI believes in a transparent and accountable government, and that decision-making with regard to energy matters should be taken in a participatory manner.  As a mechanism that is meant to extend the participatory nature of government decision-making, the Minister’s advisory committee is welcomed.  However, as a transparent and accountable mechanism of governance, we feel that there is a need for a clear terms of reference.

We suggest that a clear terms of reference would assist in the nomination process, in ensuring that civil society and other stakeholders would nominate appropriate persons to meet the needs of the Minister. In the spirit of constructive engagement, we put forward the following suggestions as the basis for such a terms of reference for an advisory body:

The council will provide advice to the minister to enable her to carry out her function including:

To ensure that diverse energy resources are available, in sustainable quantities and at affordable prices, to the South African economy in support of economic growth and poverty alleviation, taking into account environmental management requirements and interactions amongst economic sectors; to provide for energy planning, increased generation and consumption of renewable energies, contingency energy supply, holding of strategic energy feedstocks and carriers, and adequate investment in, appropriate upkeep and access to energy infrastructure;

The Minister shall appoint persons who represent stakeholders (including business, industry, civil society, NGOs, faith groups, community based organisations, academics), and persons who have experience, expertise or skills

in energy related sub-sectors including but not limited to:

Energy efficiency, renewable energy (solar energy, wind energy, micro-hydro), energy poverty, environmental externalities, health and safety, socio- economic development, non-renewable energy (coal, nuclear, gas (including fracking)), international relations, research and development, jobs, skills training, transmission/distribution, integrated energy planning, climate change,  energy regulation.

The Minister will refer matters to the council for their deliberation and will take such decisions in consultation with the council. 

The council may also refer matters to the minister that in the opinion of the council should be brought to the attention of the Minister.

The meetings of the Council will be open to the public and all documents considered or produced by the Council must be available for inspection by the public

The council consists of at least 10 but not more than 15 members appointed by the minister, provided that the Minister must take into account the desirability of appointing women, youth and persons disadvantaged by unfair discrimination and ensuring representation of vulnerable and disadvantaged persons.

The functions of the advisory council do not replace participatory processes required by DoE wrt to public consultation on its policies, plans and activities.

 

The nomination process could be expanded as follows:

Before persons are appointed, the Minister must-

                   (a)       invite nominations from organised labour, organised business, non-governmental organisations and community-based organisations in a manner that she may consider appropriate, and invite nominations from others by notice in the Gazette, at least two nationally distributed newspapers, appropriate local newspapers and on the radio specifying a period within which nominations must be submitted;

                   (b)       stipulate in such notice, the procedure to be adopted regarding such nominations; and

The Minister appoints the chairperson of the Council.

             (a) Each member of the Council designates, with the concurrence of the Minister and the organisation or person who nominated him or her, an alternate to take his or her place if he or she is unable to attend a meeting of the Council

A member of the Council holds office for a period of two years.

                (b) At the expiry of his or her term of office a member may be appointed for one further term.

 

SAFCEI believes that within the terms of reference stated above, an advisory council could add value to the democratic process, but without such a terms of reference, SAFCEI feels it would be difficult to meaningfully nominate an appropriate person to participate.

We would respectfully ask that you extend the deadline for nominations and provide for further public engagement on the terms of reference of such a committee, prior to the establishment of such a committee. 

As an organisation that has engaged with the Department of Energy over many years, we would be willing to meet with the minister, deputy minister or relevant officials to engage further on such an important matter.

 We look forward to your response.

 

Thank you very much,

 Liz signature

 

 

 

 

 

Liz McDaid

SAFCEI Energy and Climate Change Programme Coordinator

Email: liziwe@mweb.co.za

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