File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters.

Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has hit back at allegations of political interference at Eskom, warning board members to be careful about the utterances they make. 

On Tuesday, board member Busisiwe Mavuso told MPs that political interference was hampering decision-making at Eskom. 

The board was briefing Parliament's Appropriations Committee on some of the challenges facing the embattled power utility. 

According to SowetanLive, Mavuso told MPs that board members knew the decisions they had to make but these were stymied by an "interfering shareholder".

"If we were given the latitude to actually make decisions without political interference as this board, I will tell you what we could do. We'll actually go to South Africans and say 'honestly, we need to loadshed at least for the next eight months," she said.

This in seeming reference to Gordhan, who Mavuso did not mention by name, who represents government as a shareholder at the entity. 

She also spoke of Eskom's unjustifiably high workforce as well as municipal debt, saying the issue was a "political decision" that had nothing to do with the board.

Gordhan hit back at Mavuso's claims in an interview with CapeTalk on Wednesday morning, warning her to be careful of what she says. 

"I haven't heard completely what she's said but I think she has to be careful about what she says as a board member because she was part of the collective decision-making process and accounts to the shareholder which is government.

"We all have to make difficult decisions and one of the difficult decisions is whether we fire 16 000 people or not and a government that is responsible... will not fire 16 000 people," Gordhan said.

IOL