The ANC has come out in support of Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe after a storm over bribery allegations. File picture: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - The ANC has come out in support of Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe after a storm over bribery allegations.

This comes as Mantashe refused to comment on the matter on Tuesday after he briefed the energy committee on the Integrated Resource Plan.

Mantashe also refused to respond to a call by the EFF to step down after the allegations emerged. 

Asked on whether he would consider suing the Sunday World for the story, Mantashe said: “You are putting the cart before the horse.”

The ANC in a statement said it supported Mantashe, who is the party’s national chairperson.

“In keeping with its commitment to safeguard the integrity of the media and to defend media freedom, the ANC is heartened by the fact that comrade Mantashe has assured the nation that he was never involved in such an unethical and criminal conduct with journalists. Bribing journalists is not only criminal and unethical, it is also inconsistent with the values of the ANC,” said the ANC.

Mantashe caused a storm when he said he had bribed two Sunday World journalists for R70 000 to quash a story on his alleged extramarital relationship with a Pretoria student, Lerato Makgatho.

In his briefing to the portfolio committee on minerals and energy on the IRP he said there must be alternative sources of energy to prevent the collapse of towns where several power stations will be decommissioned.

The Department of Minerals and Energy had said about six power stations will be shut down because they have reached the end of their lifespan.

These power stations include Grootvlei, Hendrina and Komati.

But members of the committee raised concern that the shutting down of these towns would create ghost towns.

Mantashe said workers who work in the power stations would have to be re-skilled and re-trained.

Eskom is facing a major shake-up with the plans to deal with the decommissioning of some of the power stations.

Mantashe said they were notified by Eskom on the decommissioning of these stations.

He said there were discussions with Eskom on the matter.

“We will have a discussion with Eskom to understand what their plans are,” said Mantashe.

However, he said one of the things they will do is to put in place different departments on the future plans for the towns.

They will also re-train and re-skill the workers in the towns affected by the shut down of the power stations.

He said the IRP was giving them options on the sources of energy.

He said alternative sources of energy could be used in the affected power plants. 

“We are looking at all those options as we talk. It’s not in the interest of those communities where you close those stations,” said Mantashe.

Mantashe responded to questions on the IRP as political parties also called for Finance Minister Tito Mboweni to cut the budget deficit, the national debt and public sector wage bill.

The DA said it was sticking to its guns on reducing the public sector wage bill.

Political Bureau