Executive Insights

Bruce Whitfield: What Gwede Mantashe should be reading this weekend

Business Insider SA


bruce whitfield
Bruce Whitfield
  • Another blunder has worsened government's credibility on energy policy, and left Gwede Mantashe humiliated.
  • That is yet another knock for South Africa's general credibility.
  • Mantashe should be preparing for a showdown with his officials on Monday.
  • For mores articles, go to the Business Insider South Africa homepage.

In his 1996 business bestseller “Only the paranoid survive”, Intel founder Andy Gove spoke about how to exploit the crises every business faces, to do better in the future.

Perhaps Gwede Mantashe should find a copy this weekend to prepare him for a showdown with officials at his department on Monday.

If Mantashe doesn’t feel paranoid after being thrown under the bus – again – by energy and mining department officials for the second time in as many months, then he’s made of sterner stuff than most of us.

Fresh from the Hazenile gaff at a high profile mining conference in Australia, where Mantashe presented a speech extolling the virtues of a non-existent mineral supposedly found in great quantities in the Congo (sic) caves, the minister was again this week embarrassed by an equally embarrassing blunder.

The department of energy was forced on Friday afternoon to admit it had gazetted the wrong version of the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019, which it had launched to great fanfare that morning.

It published the document in the Government Gazette on Friday morning, and will now have to publish a cabinet approved correction.

See also: IRP2019 – municipalities can profit by generating electricity – from sewage

It comes at the end of a week of renewed load-shedding, amidst a series of breakdowns of Eskom power infrastructure just days after President Cyril Ramaphosa attended a high profile London investment conference providing assurances to would-be investors about the prospects for their investment capital in South Africa.

This latest snafu by Mantashe's officials will do nothing for the credibility of government efforts to attract money to the country.

The gaff might also be symptomatic of disagreement within cabinet over energy policy and just how big a role nuclear should play in the future energy mix.

The first document suggested there was approval for new nuclear to be brought on stream, the second is less positive on the role of nuclear. The first is being withdrawn and a more cautious tone will be adopted.

South Africa’s energy crisis threatens to break the economy. If there really is a plan it needs not only to be technically and political sound, but well communicated too.

Otherwise many in government may be consulting Jannie Mouton’s biography for inspiration before long, the one titled "And then they fired me".

Bruce Whitfield is a multi-platform award-winning financial journalist and broadcaster.

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