/ 14 April 2010

Opposition slams ANC ‘about-turn’ on Hitachi

Opposition Slams Anc 'about Turn' On Hitachi

Opposition parties on Wednesday lambasted the African National Congress’s (ANC) turnaround on its investment in Hitachi, saying the ruling party is “playing the country for fools”.

“The capitulation by the ANC to properly disinvest from its stake in Hitachi is an indictment of a political party that has lost all credibility,” Democratic Alliance (DA) spokesperson Sejamothopo Motau said.

“This is the second time in three years that we have been promised that the ANC would disinvest, and the second time it has failed to do so,” he said.

Hitachi Power Africa was awarded a multibillion-rand contract for Eskom’s new Medupi power station.

The ANC’s investment arm, Chancellor House Holdings (CHH), owns a 25% stake in Hitachi.

Motau said the Hitachi link to Eskom had a “sordid history of ANC denials and empty promises to appease the public”.

On February 21 2008, ANC treasurer general Mathews Phosa stated that the Hitachi deal would be exited from because “governance is an issue and there is public focus on this”.

“Then the ANC performed an about-turn on its opinion,” Motau said.

“As recently as January 20, ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe was saying, ‘There is nothing wrong with investing in public companies, and Chancellor House has done nothing wrong,’ and that ‘Hitachi won the contract because it is a global company [with the skills] … not because it has a minority shareholder that is called the ANC’.”

Then Phosa contradicted his original position, reportedly stating on February 25 this year that questions on Chancellor House were “spiteful” and “unfair”.

But, three days ago, on April 11, a seemingly repentant Phosa stated that: “We [the ANC] have advised Chancellor House of our desire to exit from Hitachi as quickly as possible, and they are in the process of doing so.”

“Then the ANC again changed its mind. Yesterday [Tuesday], Mantashe announced that the ANC does not influence the decisions of Chancellor House, and that there will be no disinvestment,” Motau said.

“The ANC seems to be trying to play good cop/bad cop with the public, with Phosa and Mantashe in the leading roles.

“This makes a mockery of democracy and a government built on transparency and accountability,” he said.

‘Riddled with contradictions’
Phillip Dexter of the Congress of the People said the ANC “is riddled with contradictions and dishonesty regarding its alleged divestment from Hitachi”.

“Given the recent news of the approval of the World Bank loan to … facilitate Eskom’s build programme, divestment will still make the ruling party a huge profit.

“With the share price in Hitachi Power Africa boosted by this news, divestment will bring a windfall to the coffers of the ANC in the form of profit from selling these shares.

“Now that CHH managing director Mamatho Netsianda and [Mantashe] have gone on record in contradicting [Phosa] by stating that Chancellor House will not divest from Hitachi, it is clear to us in Cope that the ANC is using its position as the ruling party to loot the state coffers,” he said.

In a letter to Eskom acting chairperson and CEO Mpho Makwana on Wednesday, United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa invited him to brief party leaders in Parliament to dispel “negative perceptions that Eskom is embedded in the ruling party”. — Sapa