NEXT STEPS…Following the court application (launched in January 2023) by The Green Connection and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), they have continued to pursue the court case calling on President Cyril Ramaphosa to bring Section 6 of National Energy Act, 2008 (NEA) into operation. The Minister of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the President remain steadfast in their position to NOT bring Section 6 into operation, ensuring they can continue to avoid being obliged by law to produce an Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) for South Africa, when we need it most.
In response, President Cyril Ramaphosa and Minister Gwede Mantashe provided the record of documentation that was supposed to show their reasons why, for 15 years, they had failed to bring Section 6 of the NEA into operation. The 34-page document merely provides copies of correspondence – 29 of these pages are The Green Connection’s own communications with the Presidency and Ministry – dating back to December 2020. Both SAFCEI and The Green Connection agree that it is absurd that copies of their own correspondence have been provided to them as part of the rationale for the government not enacting the necessary legal framework to carry out energy planning.
According to The Green Connection’s Advocacy Officer Kholwani Simelane, “Government is silent on why it failed to act from 2008 to 2020 and, just as we remain in the dark with loadshedding, the ridiculously paltry ‘record’ sheds no further light on government’s decision to disrupt the country’s energy systems and energy planning process by stalling the bringing of section 6 into operation. And while the country grapples with the crippling energy crisis, the minister of energy continues to try to justify delaying advising the President to bring Section 6 into operation by relying on a need to first complete various sector plans, and only mentioning those related to electricity.”
The Green Connection and SAFCEI submitted a supplementary founding affidavit, which confirms the position set out in their founding affidavit. The eco-justice organisations say that deferring the obligation to produce the IEP – by not bringing Section 6 into effect – the Minister is given a free hand, without legal consequences, to either produce it unreasonably late or even not produce it at all, leaving us in the dark interminably. It also lets the Minister bypass the statutory criteria stipulated in Section 6, which therefore do not bind him when energy planning takes place. Both
organisations agree that this could never have been Parliament’s intention.”
SAFCEI’s Executive Director Francesca de Gasparis says, “Aspects of the IEP that most people would not be aware of include air quality management, greenhouse gas mitigation in the energy sector, social equity, and affordability. These are just some of the critical issues which the Minister would have to take into account in planning South Africa’s energy future if section 6 were in place. The law also says that the Minister must invite public comments and ‘duly consider such comments’, which means communities would also have a chance to have their say in energy plans.”
Section 6 of the Act requires the Minister of Mineral Resources and 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.