Kgosientsho (Sputla) Ramokgopa
Rainmakers & Potstirrers

Kgosientsho (Sputla) Ramokgopa


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‘If I had my way, we’d restart the units at Komati. We closed the best-performing power station

EYEBROWS were raised when, at his State of the Nation address, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his intention to appoint a minister of electricity. A month later, Kgosientsho ‘Sputla’ Ramokgopa was appointed to the position, drawing concerns regarding the duplication of roles among ministers. There was already a tug of war between Gwede Mantashe, minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, and Pravin Gordhan, minister of Public Enterprises, who are both responsible for power generation but have failed to solve the country’s electricity crisis.

Ramokgopa faced headwinds from the get-go. He waited months for a job description from his appointer, reportedly because Mantashe and Gordhan had been trying to undermine Ramokgopa’s mandate. When it was eventually finalised, Ramogkopa still didn’t have clear performance targets. Despite the appointment of an electricity minister, Gordhan remains responsible for overseeing governance at Eskom, while Mantashe holds the authority to issue tenders and approve contracts for new generation capacity. Ramokgopa hasn’t done himself any favours by often making contradictory public statements about energy policy in South Africa.

A mere four months into his appointment, he pronounced against government’s position on the Just Economic Transition when he declared the decommissioning of the Komati coal-fired power station a mistake. Komati, based in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, was shut down in October 2022 after reaching the end of its life. Ramokgopa said Komati had been the “best-performing” station, generating 1,000MW at the time of its closure. However, energy analysts were quick to point out that Ramokgopa’s statements were misleading, and that Komati’s contribution had only been 121MW. “What I see are crocodile tears of manufactured outrage by politicians before a looming general election,” energy analyst Chris Yelland sai


Ramokgopa holds a Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the then University of Durban-Westville and two Master’s degrees – one in public administration and one in business leadership. He also has a PhD in public affairs from the University of Pretoria. Ramokgopa was introduced to politics through the South African Student Congress. He was also a member of the ANC Youth League. Prior to his appointment to Cabinet in 2023, he headed the Investment and Infrastructure Office in the Presidency. His nickname ‘Sputla’ originated from his childhood because of his soccer talent.

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