President and Minister of Energy oppose legally binding energy planning for South Africa (in response to The Green Connection and SAFCEI’s court challenge)

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Following recent court application (brought in January 2023 ahead of the President’s SONA speech) by The Green Connection and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) – to review the President’s failure or refusal to bring Section 6 of National Energy Act, 2008 (NEA) into operation – both President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Gwede Mantashe have confirmed that they will oppose the legal challenge. The request is to action the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), which is Section 6 of the Act, and requires the Minister of Energy to develop and publish the Integrated Energy plan (IEP), and review it on an annual basis. According to both eco-justice organisations, it is this lack of proper, updated energy planning that lies at the root of the country’s current energy problems.

According to SAFCEI’s Executive Director Francesca de Gasparis, “The IEP speaks directly to the energy crisis and the state of disaster that the President declared. The President spoke of an Energy Action Plan but not the Integrated Energy Plan which is the government’s own legislation.”

Section 6 of the National Energy Act (2008) was passed by parliament but has never been brought into operation by the President. So, since 2008, decision-makers have been carrying out energy planning without a proper legal framework.

Kholwani Simelane, The Green Connection’s Advocacy Officer says, “The President of South Africa and our country’s Minister of Energy seem to oppose the idea of South Africa having a proper energy plan. The purpose of the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) developed under Section 6 of the Act, is to integrate economic, environmental, political, and social interests and set the context in which energy-related decisions should be made.”

“At the SONA last week we heard the President talk a lot about an energy action plan so why not implement the IEP from the Energy Act? The next step in this legal action is for the government to release their records of the country’s energy planning. Lack of effective energy planning is the reason we are in this mess, and as long as we continue without a plan for meeting our energy requirements, for dealing with loadshedding and unaffordable electricity prices, increases will continue. A clear plan will make sure that when new energy is being procured that it is affordable, environmentally friendly and easily accessible and be a part of a just energy transition. This would be for the benefit of everyone,” says de Gasparis.

The Green Connection’s Strategic Lead Liziwe McDaid says, “It is very astonishing that in this time of crisis that both the energy minister and the President have opted to oppose our call to have an Integrated Energy Plan (IEP). In our view, the message they are sending is that they do not want any legally binding, mandatory energy planning to help prevent that we end up in such a crisis in the future.”

Simelane concludes, “Now, we will submit a Notice 30A, which gives government ten (10) days in which to give all the records of all the proceedings that have taken place around energy planning within the country.”

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