At a meeting on Tuesday morning to discuss the fuel price, minister Jeff Radebe apologised for the energy department’s recent failure to appear before parliament.
Radebe blamed his non-attendance on a member of staff who allegedly mislead the department.
“We were misled by a staffer who said the meeting was postponed. We are taking steps [in disciplining] the official concerned”, he said, adding that the culprit has now been suspended.
Last Tuesday, the chairman of parliament’s energy portfolio committee Fikile Majola described the failure of the officials to pitch for the meeting as a “boycott”.
Majola said Energy Minister Jeff Radebe had indicated last week that he could not attend the meeting, but had been told to send a delegation from his department.
“This is a boycott of the meeting, go tell him they can’t do this,” said Majola.
“We will not tolerate this. We are an independent arm of the state. They must report to parliament. When we ask them to be here, they’ve got to be here.”
Majola said Radebe and his team would be summoned to the committee this week to explain their absence at Tuesday’s meeting and to address the important issue of high fuel prices, which has led to protests because of the impact the petrol price hikes were having on ordinary citizens.
Whether they will accept Radebe’s excuse about it being a miscommunication remains to be seen.
The DA slammed the no-show, with their shadow minister of energy Gavin Davis saying it proves that the government has no plan to deal with the consequences of recent fuel hikes.
“Minister Radebe and the energy department’s failure to turn up at an energy portfolio committee meeting on the petrol price is the clearest indication yet that government has no plan to deal with escalating fuel costs.
“This no-show by a government delegation was disrespectful to parliament and, more importantly, disrespectful to the millions of South Africans who are struggling with the high cost of living,” he said.