South Africa: Tina Joemat-Pettersson – Tainted Figure Will Chart SA’s Energy Course

“Winter is coming.” The gloomy tagline of TV show Game of Thrones, promising cold and darkness, was proclaimed by many social media commentators in response to the news that the controversial Tina Joemat-Pettersson is to take up the role of Minister of Energy. Contrary to apparently widespread belief, managing oversight of Eskom does not currently fall under the Energy portfolio but rather under the Department of Public Enterprises, to be helmed by former Western Cape Premier Lynne Brown. But that doesn’t mean that the Energy top job is insignificant.

The news that former Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson was to take on South Africa’s energy portfolio has been greeted widely with concern. Concern is justified, but some of it seems based on a misunderstanding about what the Department of Energy is actually tasked with doing.

First the justified stuff. Joemat-Pettersson’s stewardship of her previous department was controversial, to say the least. Her department received an unqualified audit for five years, but the Auditor-General’s latest clean bill of health was contradicted by findings of the Public Protector. The biggest controversy of her tenure was the granting of an R800 million tender to Iqbal Surve’s Sekunjalo consortium…

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