'Chancellor House not selling Hitachi stake'

It was not up to the ANC to decide whether its investment arm, Chancellor House Holdings, should get rid of its stake in Hitachi, party secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.

Chancellor House owns 25% of Hitachi Power, which won a contract to supply boilers to power Eskom’s two new coal-fired power stations.

“Whether we are going to dispose of our stake ... I don’t think that decision should be taken in Luthuli House because you have got a company which is having a board,” he told media in Boksburg.

Mantashe was speaking after “brutal” and “candid” talks with alliance partner the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) at Luthuli House, the ANC headquarters in Johannesburg, on Monday.

Cosatu had criticised the ANC’s involvement in Hitachi, with its general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi saying if it was true that the ruling party had such a stake then “God help us all”.

ANC treasurer Mathews Phosa said on the weekend that the party was planning “to exit within the next six weeks—but no one must hold us to six weeks because you don’t know what will happen in a commercial transaction”.

The World Bank approved the controversial $3,75-billion loan to develop a coal-fired power plant in South Africa despite the lack of support from the United States, The Netherlands and Britain.

“That decision [on whether to sell its stake] must be taken at that level rather than our level. That’s the right thing to do,” said Mantashe.

‘Proper decisions’
“If we begin to manage the investment company from Luthuli House it is likely to be more inefficient.
But if it is run by its management team under the guidance of the board it will take proper decisions depending on what is in the interests of the company.”

Mantashe distanced the ruling party from decisions taken by Chancellor House, after opposition parties raised objections to the ANC’s involvement in the company, citing it as a conflict of interest due to the Eskom deal.

“The ANC has no stake in Hitachi, we invest in Chancellor House. Full stop. Where Chancellor House invests doesn’t translate into ANC having a stake,” Mantashe said.

“Chancellor House may have a stake. That is economics 101.”

Reports on Tuesday quoted Chancellor House managing director Mamatho Netsianda as saying via SMS: “Please do not call me. The official position is: Chancellor House Holdings is not selling its stake in Hitachi Power Africa.” - Sapa

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