Ramaphosa denies accusations of interference at Eskom

President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied accusations of interference at Eskom made against him by the power utility’s former CEO Brian Molefe, The Sunday Times has reported.

Molefe – who himself is the subject of a civil and criminal lawsuit – this week testified before Judge Raymond Zondo at the State Capture Commission of Inquiry.

Among the accusations levelled against the President, Molefe inferred that he had interfered with the irregular Glencore coal procurement contract and had contributed to the return of load-shedding.

Molefe accused Ramaphosa of using his political power to further his own financial ends and that of Glencore, in which Molefe said he had a 9.6% stake when assuming the role of Deputy President.

Molefe pointed out that when the Eskom war room was established in 2015, Ramaphosa served as the chairman.

“Mr Cyril Ramaphosa was the chairman of the war room,” Molefe said. “He was in fact the de-facto chairperson of Eskom.”

Molefe alleged that during his stint as chairman of the war room, Ramaphosa had put pressure on the board to renegotiate a deal with Glencore.

He noted that Ramaphosa had sold his shares in Glencore, but the deal had not gone through at the time when Molefe was appointed CEO of Eskom.

He claimed the sale of Ramaphosa’s shares was still awaiting approval by the Competition Commission at that time. Therefore, he suspected that there had been conflict of interest.

Ramaphosa denies allegations

However, Ramaphosa vehemently denied the accusations made by Molefe during an interview with The Sunday Times on Friday.

“No, no, no, never. I never gave that instruction, and obviously he will have to prove it,” Ramaphosa told the newspaper.

“Issues of conflict of interest, I take very seriously, and have always done so, whether I was in business or whether I was in the public sector, I take it very seriously.”

“That for me has been the golden standard and in this regard, as soon as I was appointed deputy president, I wrote a letter to the president and I said I have had business dealings and these business dealings I am going to extricate myself through either disposal or sale of those businesses’ dealings so that I can completely move away from those business dealings,” Ramaphosa stated.

“Glencore acquired Optimum, and to do that deal there needed to be a BEE partner and that deal was done, I think, in 2013, and the shares were not given, they were paid for in a loan that was acquired,” Ramaphosa said.

The president added that he will respond to all the accusations in time.

Load-shedding to last until April

The developments at the Zondo Commission come at a time when Eskom has once again been forced to implement load-shedding.

It announced this week it would have to implement Stage 2 load-shedding from Thursday until Saturday, following two generation units at the Kusile power station tripping due to the failure of conveyor belts supplying coal to the units.

“In addition, a unit each at the Kriel and Duvha stations tripped due to unforeseen breakdowns,” Eskom added.

According to report from Bloomberg, the power utility expected electricity supply shortages on a weekly basis for the next three months, which could mean load-shedding will need to be implemented through April

This is based on Eskom’s most recent status report, which showed the utility’s most likely risk scenario included a deficit of more than 2,001 megawatts to meet demand and reserves in the next three months.

Now read: A look at South Africa’s energy policies

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Ramaphosa denies accusations of interference at Eskom