Former deputy president Jacob Zuma’s behaviour as a former leader of the government’s campaign against HIV/Aids as well as the moral regeneration movement ”is testimony to the sad state of leadership in South Africa today”, says Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon.
The DA leader said in his weekly internet column, SA Today, that it is now common cause among the prosecution and the defence at the Zuma rape trial that he had unprotected sex with his accuser, who is HIV-positive.
On a different plane, ”but equally and sadly egregious”, was the conduct of Minister of Public Enterprises Alec Erwin last week, said the official opposition leader.
On the eve of the local government elections, he called a press conference to claim that the damage to the Koeberg nuclear power plant in December, which has contributed to the ongoing power crisis in the Western Cape, was a deliberate act of sabotage and not an accident.
Leon quoted Erwin as saying: ”Let me be very clear on this. The bolt that caused the generator’s destruction did not get there by accident.” He added: ”We will bring criminal charges against individuals soon.”
Speaking at the same press conference, Leon noted that Minister of Minerals and Energy Lindiwe Hendricks added: ”Clearly other forces are at play here … There is growing evidence of a linkage of some of these events to a resistance to the transformation drive by the government.”
Cape Town’s outgoing mayor, Nomaindia Mfeketo, concurred. ”We had our suspicions”, she declared.
Other ANC leaders picked up the refrain, ”which suggests that Erwin had not been merely making a passing comment but had been playing his part in a well-orchestrated propaganda campaign”.
Leon noted that the truth, ”of course, is that the power crisis is largely the result of policy decisions taken by the African National Congress government in the late 1990s, which instructed [power parastatal] Eskom to stop building power plants”.
Former energy ministers Penuell Maduna and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, now Deputy President, must bear their share of the blame, as must former public enterprises ministers Stella Sigcau and Jeff Radebe.
The power crisis is also the consequence of the loss of skilled engineers and managers from Eskom, and the failure of ANC municipalities to implement proper contingency plans for large-scale power failures.
These facts — and a lack of evidence to support any other conclusions — forced Erwin to backtrack after the elections, claiming that he had not used the word ”sabotage”, and that the media had manipulated his remarks.
But an ordinary reading of his remarks on the occasion — as well as camera footage of the conference — clearly indicates that he was making an accusation of sabotage. He is even shown clearly using the word ”sabotage”.
Furthermore, after the elections, Erwin continued to insist that ”human instrumentality” was to blame, saying that ”everything points to someone placing [the bolt] there”. A Cabinet statement this week explicitly supported the sabotage claim.
”Yet if sabotage is indeed suspected, where is the evidence of deliberate intent? Where are the promised arrests? And who, exactly, are the ‘other forces’ at work?” Leon asked.
The Freedom Front Plus said in a statement on Friday that Erwin’s claim of sabotage at Koeberg now increasingly appears to have been a false alarm.
Minister of Minerals and Energy Hendricks on Thursday, during the African Ministerial Conference on Hydro Power, indicated to journalists that the problems at Eskom were ”nothing more than logistical problems”.
FF+ spokesperson on minerals and energy Willie Spies said it now appears as if the only sabotage that took place was the sabotage of expertise through the ill-considered application of affirmative action by Eskom itself. According to reports, eight of 60 senior engineers have resigned in the past two years. This represents 13% of the key personnel at Koeberg. These posts are apparently not being filled.
Eskom also recently indicated in its employment-equity report that it is extremely difficult to find qualified nuclear engineers among the designated groups, the FF+ said.
According to a recently published study, the level of alienation amongst Eskom workers in the non-designated groups (mainly white males) is extremely high and could reach crisis proportions. The main reason for the high level of alienation, according to the study, is the way in which Eskom is forcing through affirmative action.
”It is clear that expertise has seriously been sacrificed. The only way in which this failure could be set straight is to drop the rigid application of the so-called transformation measures,” Spies said.