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South Africa's Zuma appoints new energy minister

31 Mar 2017 09:29 (+01:00 GMT)
South Africa's Zuma appoints new energy minister

Cape Town, 31 March (Argus) — South African president Jacob Zuma has appointed Mmamoloko "Nkhensani" Kubayi as the country's new energy minister, replacing Tina Joemat-Petterson.

Zuma's dismissal of former finance minister Pravin Gordhan in the same cabinet reshuffle intensified the country's political crisis.

Kubayi is scheduled to be sworn into office today. She is a former ANC representative in Johannesburg municipality and has served on educational and telecommunications committees in the national parliament.

The energy ministry is one of the government bodies that will have to approve plans for South Africa to build additional nuclear power capacity, a policy keenly pushed by Zuma.

The ministry is also drawing up approvals for the start of shale gas exploration in the semi-desert Karoo region. It will also have to react to an upcoming competition commission inquiry into the country's LPG market.

Offshore oil explorers, including Total and ExxonMobil, are waiting for the government to finalise offshore oil and gas exploration fiscal and other operating terms.

The ministry will also have to give its approval to plans announced by Chevron this month to sell its 75pc stake in its 110,000 b/d capacity oil refinery in Cape Town and other downstream assets to China's Sinopec for almost $1bn.

Investors are concerned over the future political and economic direction of Africa's most advanced economy and sharp divisions within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party over Zuma's future as president.

The rand has lost value since Zuma sought to remove Gordhan.

Gordhan had the backing of large parts of the business community and some senior members of the ruling ANC party because of his determination to limit political interference in the finance ministry. Gordhan has also clashed with business interests close to Zuma and his family.

"I have directed the new ministers and deputy ministers to work tirelessly with their colleagues to bring about radical socio-economic transformation and to ensure that the promise of a better life for the poor and the working class becomes a reality," Zuma said today.

The ANC, which has been in power since the country's first democratic elections in 1994, has lost ground in recent elections, losing key cities including Johannesburg and Pretoria to opposition parties.

Zuma has promised more radical economic reform, including the state expropriation of land without compensation.