Mbalula calls for ANC members to protect Mantashe amid criticism over energy crisis

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula says mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe told him ‘people were after him’. File photo.
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ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has called for party members to protect mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe at all costs amid criticism over the energy crisis.

Mbalula said Mantashe complained to him that some party members had criticised him after he defended the use of coal to generate power.

He said Mantashe was complaining as if he “had no hope”‚ saying people were “after him”.

“There is general anarchy in the organisation. When there is a problem you have 15 speakers and everybody thinks they have an opinion. There is nothing wrong with comrades talking.

“I have already addressed [former tourism minister and ANC stalwart] Derek Hanekom. I said: ‘This is how you want to thank us in retirement‚ that you have an opinion about Mantashe? It might be an opinion that is profound but don’t you think it belongs somewhere‚ so that we resolve it’?” said Mbalula.

He said Mantashe was under attack from “liberals” over the issue of energy.

“We are not saying anything must not be done‚ we are talking about a balancing act. We are not saying we are abandoning coal‚” he said.

Earlier this month Mantashe claimed Eskom could be fixed within the next six to 12 months.

Speaking on eNCA he said: “Eskom must do introspection. Do we have the capacity‚ technically‚ to deal with the crisis? If not‚ can we go out and look for that capacity? If we don’t do that‚ it will be a very complex problem.

“It will take us six to 12 months to sort the issue if we pay attention to the issue.”

Mantashe said Eskom should focus on power station maintenance to increase generation from its existing capacity.

“In Eskom‚ we have 48‚000MW connected to the grid but Eskom at best can give us 26‚000MW. There is 22‚000MW that is idling but connected. It is not decommissioned and if there was a focus on servicing and maintaining those megawatts‚ we would not have load-shedding.”

At the ANC’s recent 55th national conference‚ the party discussed Eskom being placed within the energy ministry‚ a moved slammed by some opposition parties.

The move would give power to Mantashe‚ who has been critical of Eskom in the past.