File picture: Siphiwe Sibeko/ Reuters

Pretoria - The DA is pushing for the release of the terms and conditions of the loan agreement entered into between power utility Eskom and the China Development Bank.
This comes months after Eskom signed a R33 billion loan agreement as part of the funding of Eskom’s build programme and construction of the Kusile power station.

The party has been calling for the loan agreement to be made public without success since the agreement was signed.

On Sunday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane even threatened to take legal action to ensure there was transparency in the loan agreement.

“The DA will not allow China’s model of ‘debt trap diplomacy’ to take root in South Africa, and we will approach the courts if necessary to ensure that government is transparent with the public about the terms and conditions of loans received from China,” Maimane said.

He said despite submitting a PAIA request on September 10, the terms and conditions of the loan remained “suspiciously” secret.

“I have therefore submitted a notice of internal appeal to Eskom in terms of Section 75 of PAIA for not granting my request for access to the terms and conditions of the loan. If Eskom fails to honour the further 10-day deadline set by this Notice of Appeal, the DA will not hesitate to take the necessary legal action and approach the courts for relief,” Maimane said.

He has previously approached President Cyril Ramaphosa, Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza and China Development Bank liaison in South Africa Jiangtao Cao, but none disclosed the terms and conditions of the loan.

“South Africans need to be assured that this loan does not tie our country and taxpayers to unaffordable and unfair terms and conditions.”

Responding in the National Council of Provinces in September, Ramaphosa said it was not unusual for state-owned entities to raise funding in the market for things like capital investment or operating costs.

“They do so in accordance with standard commercial arrangements,” he said in a response to an oral question.

Ramaphosa had said the loan had a grace period of five years and was repayable in 20 instalments over 10 years.

“There are no specific conditions for this loan. Eskom has indicated it will not be able to make the loan agreement public since it contains information that may put Eskom at a disadvantage when negotiating in the market.”

He had insisted that the loan was government guaranteed and no Eskom assets have been used as security for the loan.

But, Maimane said Ramaphosa had committed his administration to greater transparency and accountability but had chosen to follow the path of secrecy that was entrenched under former president Zuma.

“This is an opportunity for President Ramaphosa to play open cards with the public about what this loan commits us to, and we expect him to do so.”

Political Bureau