President Cyril Ramaphosa on Wednesday told MPs he recused himself from the process of appointing Sifiso Dabengwa to the board of Eskom, the embattled power utility, because of his past relationship with the businessman.
"When the name of Mr Dabengwa was brought to be appointed as a director, I immediately said I know him and I would like to recuse myself from being part of the decision that would lead to the appointment of Mr Dabengwa," Ramaphosa said in his first question-and-answer session in the National Assembly since being appointed president in February.
"I decided that I should recuse myself to avoid and not hide the fact that I know him, to avoid a situation where I could be accused of a conflictual relationship."
Ramaphosa was responding to a question from the EFF, who have criticised Dabengwa's appointment, pointing to the appointment to South African Airways of Dudu Myeni, a close ally of former president Jacob Zuma.
Myeni was named in a parliamentary inquiry as having interfered in Eskom, allegedly to do the bidding of Zuma and his friends.
The EFF claim Dabengwa was the "main man" behind Ramaphosa's campaign to ascend to the throne of the ruling African National Congress.
The president said he currently had no dealings with Dabengwa and put his head on a block, essentially vouching for the former MTN group chief executive.
"I can say with certainty Mr Dabengwa's in Eskom is not going to be of a fraudulent nature, advancing my interests. That will not happen under any circumstances.
"I know that be have become fearful because of experiences we've had in the past. I can give you an assurance that is nog going to happen to me," Ramaphosa said in apparent reference to his predecessor.
African News Agency/ANA