Negative energy for SA
For the first time in the democratic era, the office of the auditor-general has complained about a minister unwilling to commit to addressing the root causes of trouble in her department.
The accused is Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. In yesterday's presentation on the energy budget, the page for "ministerial commitments to address root causes" was left blank by the auditor-general's office.
When ANC and DA MPs asked about the blank page, the officials said they had been trying for a year to meet Joemat-Pettersson but had "just been out of luck".
DA MP Gordon Mackay quipped that he was not surprised at the officials' apparent run of bad luck.
"It is part of the minister's continuing disappearing act. She should really try to focus on South Africa. She is abroad so often other countries think she is their minister of energy," Mackay observed.
There was bad news for South Africans from the auditor-general's report into the department of energy and its entities.
Regarding PetroSA, South Africans will have to fork out unbudgeted billions to the troubled agency this year because it drastically overestimated both the oil price and the country's strategic energy reserves, which have now been readjusted to much lower levels than previously thought.
PetroSA needs R9.2-billion. The funding deficit (that part which PetroSA can't fund) is R4.2-billion. The Central Energy Fund has had to make commitments to cover this deficit of R4.2-billion.
Further trouble lies ahead in the nuclear field.
First, there are clearly massive problems with the audit of the books of the Nuclear Company of South Africa (Necsa).
Necsa has been unable to table its annual report for this year.
When it was reported in April that Necsa was in serious financial trouble the company reacted angrily but now the situation seems very serious.
Second, the department of performance management admitted that, as of April, the latest date on which it can comment, no plan had been tabled for the country's much-vaunted nuclear build programme. Portfolio committee chairman Fikile Majola and ANC MP Tandi Mahambehlala said this and other aspects of the report were so far off the mark it was unrealistic.