/ 27 February 2023

Ramaphosa calls urgent cabinet meeting as more Eskom corruption is exposed

Ramaphosa Announcement
President Cyril Ramaphosa.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for a special cabinet meeting on Monday night in the wake of allegations of corruption involving Eskom as well as the much awaited cabinet reshuffle. 

Government communications acting director general Michael Currin confirmed that Ramaphosa had called for an urgent cabinet meeting but said he had not seen the agenda. However, insiders said Ramaphosa has called the meeting to finalise regulations for the energy state of disaster. The meeting is apparently scheduled for 10pm. 

An insider said Ramaphosa will also want to discuss the energy crisis as well as the new electricity minister.

Meanwhile the Mail & Guardian understands that the ANC is also holding a national working committee (NWC) meeting on Monday during which former Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter’s tell-all interview with eNCA will be discussed. The meeting is expected to continue until the evening. 

One NWC member said they expect Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan to discuss the Eskom scandal.

The insider said Ramaphosa usually calls for an urgent cabinet meeting when the matter is political. Cabinet meetings are typically held on Wednesdays. 

This comes after explosive revelations by De Ruyter of high-ranking ANC politicians involved in corruption at the power utility. 

Last week Eskom announced that De Ruyter, who has overseen South Africa’s longest period of load-shedding in more than a decade since the power crisis began, had left the troubled parastatal with immediate effect. 

He had been expected to serve notice until the end of March after announcing his resignation at the end of last year.

The announcement came after the embattled chief executive’s television interview last Tuesday evening, during which he said evidence showed that the governing ANC saw Eskom as an “eating trough”.

He admitted to failing to prevent load-shedding but highlighted entrenched corruption in government and governance regarding Eskom. When questioned by the broadcaster about corruption, De Ruyter said he had expressed his concern to a senior government minister about attempts to water down governance regarding the $8.5 billion to fund the country’s “just transition” away from fossil fuels.

Ramaphosa has already met ANC alliance leaders from the South African Communist Party and union federation Cosatu. 

The meetings took place on 24 and 25 February. Cosatu president Zingiswa Losi said she and Ramaphosa discussed the announcement of an electricity minister. 

Losi said Ramaphosa took people at the meeting into his confidence about the electricity minister position, which Cosatu had earlier raised as concerning.

“The president did touch on that particular matter but even though it was not the entire collective of Cosatu that attended the meeting, I think our fears have been allayed. The president said that this minister was not a permanent fixture and it was only an interim [measure] to manage the electricity crisis.” 

The weekend meetings could mean that Ramaphosa will make his cabinet move this week. Cabinet reshuffles have usually been announced after these marathon meetings.  

The M&G previously reported that Ramaphosa had assured the NWC that he would reconfigure his cabinet after Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivered the budget speech, which occurred on 22 February.