Operation Vulindlela has notched up some significant gains |Ramaphosa.
By Lehlohonolo Lehana.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the launch of the latest Operation Vulindlela report, detailing the progress his government has made in introducing reforms across South Africa in the first three months of 2022.
Ramaphosa set up Operation Vulindlela in October 2020 as an initiative of the Presidency and National Treasury to accelerate structural reforms in these network industries. While the responsible government departments and entities drive these reforms, Operation Vulindlela monitors and identifies challenges and blockages.
Where needed, the team also facilitates technical support to government departments.
Some of the major achievements announced by Ramaphosa include:
- The auction of the high-demand spectrum for mobile telecommunications was delayed for more than 10 years and was finally completed in March. The release of the new spectrum will improve connectivity and bring down broadband costs, Ramaphosa said.
- The establishment of the National Ports Authority as a separate subsidiary of Transnet last year had been delayed for more than 15 years. This was the necessary first step towards enabling private sector participation and increasing the efficiency of our port terminals.
- Reinstated the Blue Drop, Green Drop and No Drop system for the first time since 2014 to ensure better monitoring of water and wastewater treatment quality.
- The government has published an updated Critical Skills List, also for the first time since 2014.
- Operation Vulindlela has been providing technical support to the Department of Water and Sanitation to implement a turnaround plan for the granting of water use licences, with a target to process 80% of all applications within 90 days.
- Work is also underway to establish a National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency that will ensure better management of our national water resources.
- The White Paper on National Rail Policy, which was approved by Cabinet in March, outlines plans to revitalise rail infrastructure and enables third‐party access to the freight rail network. Transnet Freight Rail is already in the process of making slots available for private rail operators on the network.
- A fully operational e-Visa system has been launched in 14 countries, including some of our largest tourist markets. A comprehensive review of the work visa system is also underway to enable South Africa to attract the skills that the economy needs.
Ramaphosa added that a number of other 'inter-connected reforms' are being worked on, with coordination taking place between multiple departments and entities.
"The best example of this is in the energy sector, where a number of important, interconnected reforms are underway to change the way that we generate and consume electricity.
"Milestones include the raising of the licensing threshold for new generation projects to 100MW, allowing these projects to connect to the grid and sell power to customers. We have revived the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme through the opening of new bid windows."
Changes to the regulations on new generation capacity have allowed municipalities to procure power independently for the first time, Ramaphosa said.
He added that legislative reforms will ultimately give birth to a new competitive electricity market, supported by the publication of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill and the work underway to amend the Electricity Pricing Policy.
"The process of unbundling Eskom is on track, with the entity meeting its December 2021 deadline for the establishment of a National Transmission Company. By December this year, we hope to complete the unbundling of Eskom's generation and distribution divisions."
Ramaphosa said these reforms have been made possible due to better collaboration across government behind a shared reform agenda.
"Many of these reforms are complex, involving new ways of working and even the establishment of new institutions. In some cases, it will take time for us to see their full impact. Yet they are the only way to shift our economy from stagnation to dynamism."