The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in Parliament has called on Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to resign over the latest round of power cuts.
Gordhan was briefing an urgent meeting of the Parliament’s public enterprises committee to clarify the issues facing the cash-strapped power utility.
While most opposition members of Parliament were cordial towards Gordhan, who not too long ago was an ANC backbencher and fellow portfolio committee member, the EFF said he was part of the governmental team that brought about the latest round of load-shedding.
Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, the EFF’s national spokesperson, told the committee Gordhan was a member of the Cabinet that led to the failure of Eskom over the last decade.
“This current crop of government has dismally failed, that includes you, the rest of the cabinet, with or without [former president Jacob] Zuma… And I think you should step aside,” he said.
Gordhan dismissed Ndlozi’s suggestion that he resign as an attempt at delivering an election speech.
“As he knows that there are people who caused the problems, I’m sure he’s aware there are people who are trying to solve the problem, (and are those) who also resisted the cause of the problem as well.”
The African Christian Democratic Party’s Steve Swart said he finds President Cyril Ramaphosa’s reaction to load-shedding strange.
“Wasn’t the president briefed? He says he’s shocked and angry. South Africans are shocked and angry. I am shocked and angry,” Swart asked Gordhan.
ANC MP Zukiswa Rantho agreed saying she too was perturbed by the president’s response to the latest round of blackouts.
In response, Gordhan said Ramaphosa was merely expressing his despair.
“The president was hoping we would be getting on top of the matter. As was I. And then we get the surprise we had the other day,” Gordhan said.
Asked whether he plans to institute legal action against those responsible for design flaws and structural faults at the new Medupi and Kusile power plants, Gordhan said there will “definitely be litigation where Medupi is concerned.”
“State capture affected many procurement systems… Law enforcement must now come to the party. The president or minister can’t arrest or charge anybody. That’s their job. And they should do it without fear or favour no matter who is involved.”
Gordhan dismissed some MP’s suggestions that Eskom was being sabotaged and those responsible are guilty of treasonous acts.
“There’s not enough evidence of sabotage. So let’s look at the technical issues and solve the technical issues. It’s in our national interest, not party political interest that we have energy security for the next one hundred years,” Gordhan said.
Gordhan then apologised to South Africans who have again been left with the uncertainty whether the lights will stay on or not.
“We have an obligation to apologise to South Africans for what we are confronted with now. We can do all sort of blame shifting. But right now, we are in office, and we take responsibility to solve the problems,” he concluded.