ANC and DA MPs urge Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom and Molefe

Eskom's on-off-on chief executive Brian Molefe. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

Eskom's on-off-on chief executive Brian Molefe. (Oupa Nkosi, M&G)

The Democratic Alliance’s representative for public enterprises Natasha Mazzone has urged Zukiswa Rantho, the chair of Parliament’s portfolio committee on public enterprises, to announce a Parliamentary inquiry into Eskom “without delay”.

In a letter sent to Rantho on Tuesday, Mazzone quotes a statement from the ANC that accuses the Eskom board of committing perjury in attempting to explain Brian Molefe’s return as chief executive. In light of the ANC’s strong criticism, Mazzone says there is now consensus across political parties that an inquiry is necessary.

“In light of the above statement emanating from the ANC it is clear that our call for a full-scale parliamentary inquiry now enjoys support across the political divide and therefore it is of the utmost importance that you, in your capacity as chair of the portfolio committee on public enterprises, commence this inquiry without delay,” Mazzone wrote to Rantho.

The ANC’s statement referred to read: “Not only are these latest developments disingenuous to say the least, they amount to perjury. The African National Congress calls on government and Parliament to act decisively to deal with this irrational and untenable situation.”

The letter was sent following a meeting of the parliamentary committee with Eskom board members and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.
Rantho said the portfolio committee was unconvinced by Brown and the Eskom board’s attempt to explain Molefe’s reappointment.

“We reiterate the call by our organisation [the ANC] that the decision to reappoint Mr Molefe as CEO of Eskom must be rescinded with immediate effect,” Rantho said in a statement after the meeting.

The ANC’s study group on public enterprises, of which Rantho is acting chairperson, has also called for an urgent Parliamentary inquiry into the Eskom board.

Mazzone, however, has said the inquiry should investigate how Molefe is said to have resigned, then taken early retirement and then, in a twist, placed on “unpaid leave”. In sworn affidavits, Brown and Molefe say the reinstated chief executive was on unpaid leave, but in a statement last year Molefe said he was resigning following the release of the State of Capture report. The report accused him of having close relations with the Gupta family.

The inquiry, Mazzone said, should also investigate the following:

  • How did Molefe come to be reappointed;
  • Former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi’s allegations that Molefe and Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane attempted to coerce him to withdraw Glencore’s Optimum mining licences to ensure that the Guptas take over Glencore’s coal mines;
  • The possibility that Brown misled Parliament when she failed to disclose whether there had been contracts of engagement between the Gupta-linked Trillian and Eskom in her reply to a DA parliamentary question; and
  • The allegations that Duduzane Zuma, President Jacob Zuma’s son, produced a fake “intelligence” report which was used by the president to fire four Eskom executives in 2015.

Brown said on Tuesday in Parliament that she would appear in the high court in Pretoria on May 30. The DA’s court application against Molefe’s reappointment will be heard on that day. Rantho has yet to announce whether the inquiry will take place.

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