by Jan Cronje, 28 April 2021
Original News24 article here
Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy has voted against a proposal to launch an investigation into how bids were awarded for a multi-billion-rand programme to fast-track new power production.
Members on Wednesday voted along party lines at the end of a three-hour hearing. The vote was proposed by the DA’s Kevin Mileham, who was seconded by his party colleague James Lorimer. But the proposal garnered no cross-party support and failed.
The DA MPs wanted the committee to probe how preferred bidders were chosen for the department of energy’s Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP), which will add around 2 000 MW of new power production to SA’s national grid from independent producers.
Karpowership SA, which provides floating powerships, won the largest share of the bid. The company still needs to secure environmental authorisation from the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, as well as approval from port operator Transnet.
It is planning to moor a total of five powerships and three support vessels, known as floating storage regasification units, at the ports of Saldanha Bay, Richards Bay, and Ngqura.
While Mileham said the proposed probe would focus on all bidders, he has questioned why the powerships would stay in SA harbours for 20 years. He said the committee should know what scores the different bidders received.
A number of ANC MPs criticised Mileham’s proposal.
ANC MP Sibusiso Kula said there appeared to be an attempt to “problematise” the RMIPPP process by “casting aspersions on it in the media”.
“I don’t think we are at a point in time where we ought be entertaining things such as investigations,” he said. Kula said the department of energy, which briefed the committee last week, had cleared any “doubts, concerns and misconceptions”.
His party colleague Matthews Wolmarans said voting to launch a probe would be “putting the cart in front of the horse.”
Mikateko Mahlaule, from the ANC, said launching a probe into the bids would mean the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy risked treading on the toes of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts. This would set a bad precedent, he said.
Mileham defended the proposed probe, saying the oversight committee had a duty to scrutinise decisions of the department of energy. The probe, he said, would help put to rest concerns of manipulation.
This comes after Daily Maverick reported that a former advisor to ministers of state security Ministers David Mahlobo and Bongani Bongo was a shareholder in the Karpowership bid. George Mokoena, a lawyer, holds a 20% stake in Powergroup SA, the firm that partnered with Karadeniz to form Karpowership SA.
Wednesday’s meeting ended up passing another vote, proposed by Wolmarans, to say that information that the committee has is “sufficient that it addresses most of the concerns that are there, and therefore it is something that [the committee] will continue to be seized with going forward.”