The  EEF march against load shedding and splitting of Eskom. The protest began at Innes Free Park, Sandton, and proceeded to Megawatt Park in Sunninghill. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokaz/African News Agency (ANA)
The EEF march against load shedding and splitting of Eskom. The protest began at Innes Free Park, Sandton, and proceeded to Megawatt Park in Sunninghill. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokaz/African News Agency (ANA)

Malema guns for Gordhan on Eskom

By Piet Rampedi, Karabo Ngoepe and Mzilikazi Wa Afrika Time of article published Mar 1, 2020

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Johannesburg – EFF president Julius Malema has called on Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter to abandon Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s alleged agenda to steal public resources and channel them to “their white monopoly capital friends”.

He also accused Old Mutual chairperson and former ANC national executive committee (NEC) member Trevor Manuel, Ramaphosa and Gordhan of complicity in an alleged DA agenda to destroy state-owned enterprises.

Addressing EFF supporters outside Eskom’s Megawatt Park headquarters in Johannesburg on Friday, Malema asked De Ruyter to end load-shedding and cancel contracts with independent power producers (IPPs) of renewable energy.

He claimed they benefited Ramaphosa’s relatives, including his brothers-in-law Patrice Motsepe and Jeff Radebe.

Malema said Gordhan and Ramaphosa plotted to collapse and sell SOEs to their “white businessmen friends” to pay back the R1 billion donation towards the president’s successful 2017 campaign to lead the ANC.

“We are here to tell you, CEO, that we know very well that Jamnadas (Gordhan’s second name) and Ramaphosa, they never deploy a person if they don’t have an agenda of stealing.

“They sent you here to come and steal on their behalf because that’s what they do. They did that with NPA, they did that with Sars, they do that with all state-owned companies. They put people who are going to channel the resources of the government into the hands of white monopoly capital,” Malema said.

“The IPPs are benefiting Ramaphosa, Shanduka, they are benefiting Patrice Motsepe. They are benefiting Ramaphosa’s relatives. Jeff Radebe is also in the IPPs. You cannot follow the agenda of the family. 

“This country is where it is because there was an Indian family that stole the resources of our people. Now, today, it is the Motsepe family working with Ramaphosa and Radebe to steal the resources of Eskom. 

“We are not going to allow that. They do that with the collaboration of white capital.”

Presidency spokesperson, Khusela Diko, said on Sunday: "The EFF is a terribly discredited party which continues to seek relevance by spreading nonsensical and fantastic lies about the President".

"The EFF has been relentless on these allegations which have been answered by the president on the record several times since he was deputy president. It is really high time that should the EFF have any evidence to back up their claims, they must approach law enforcement agencies. 

"South Africans are really tired of baseless and malicious accusations being bandied around ad nasuem. As for their fanatical obsession with the Minister of Public Enterprises the less said the better," she said. 

Malema first made the allegations that Radebe and Motsepe stood to benefit from the IPPs in August 2018.  In a question posed to Ramaphosa during the president’s scheduled question and answer session in Parliament, Malema asked at the time. 

“Why did the government rush to sign the Independent Power Producers (IPP) agreements when Eskom has the electricity capacity available at a cheaper price.

“When you eventually plug (the electricity generated by) the Independent Power Producers into the national grid will this not lead to a loss of jobs for a lot of Eskom workers or is this merely another cash heist that seeks to benefit your business associates and your brother-in-law Patrice Motsepe.” 

SOEs have been draining public coffers for years with many bailouts. This week, the National Treasury said R162bn had been allocated to financially distressed SOEs such as SAA, Denel and the SABC, with Eskom accounting for 82%.

Treasury added that R112bn would be transferred to the power utility to help it offset its financial problems.

In his Budget speech this week, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that Eskom would receive R230bn in bailouts over 10 years. Eskom is still struggling to make a profit or continue to service its debt of over R400bn and SAA has been placed under business rescue.

Malema told his supporters that Gordhan’s strategy of unbundling Eskom had been disastrous due to interference in operational matters.

“Jamnadas is destroying South Africa. He is destroying everything that is working in South Africa. Today, we have got a national airline with only one line to Cape Town.

But they call it a national airline. It’s no longer South African Airways, it is Cape Town Airways because when you go to Durban... there won’t be a plane going there under Ramaphosa, under Jamnadas.”

This comes after the government announced that SAA would discontinue its routes in the country except to the Cape Town.  

Malema said while EFF did not support De Ruiter’s appointment because it wanted a black CEO, it was up to the Eskom boss  to “prove us wrong” by ending load shedding. 

If he achieved that feat, Malema added, De Ruiter would have displayed that there were white people in South Africa who were driven by the love for their people and not by profit. 

He urged him to deal decisively with corruption at Eskom’s Kusile and Medupi power station, complete them and increase capacity.   

“We want you to advise this leadership of this government that these IPPs are going to collapse this organisation. We want a nuclear power which is not characterised by corruption, and let’s build it inside Eskom and only if we can afford,” Malema added. 

“The coal will continue to push us. But it doesn't mean we must not find alternative means. Let’s start working on alternative means inside Eskom, not in the boardrooms of Investec and Old Mutual where Trevor Manual influences people that there must be IPPs so that these racist financial institutions can continue to milk our limited resources.”

The EFF leader also claimed that Gordhan, Manuel and Ramaphosa were complicit in a DA plot to destroy Eskom, South African Airways, Denel and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) because “they are the same WhatsApp group”. 

“That’s why the DA and Ramaphosa are one thing in that parliament. When you stand up to protest against Jamnadas, the ANC does not stand up. 

"It’s the DA that stands up to protect Jamnadas.  When you fight with Ramaphosa, it’s the DA that stands up because Ramaphosa, don't make a mistake, is the president of the DA. 

"He’s not the president of the ANC, because there’s no organisation called ANC. That thing has long died.” he said. 

DA spokesperson Solly Malatsi said: "The claims are devoid of truth and should be seen for the nonsense they are."

Malema urged Soweto residents and others who can afford tp [pay for electricity and stop “hiding behind the poor” by demanding free electricity. 

There was nothing called free electricity, he insisted, because Eskom needed money to pay for coal, salaries and generate power. 

“Those who don't pay (for) electricity and hide behind the poor, you are betraying the struggles of the poor. Let us be honest people of Soweto. 

"Let us stand up and say, only those who are poor should not pay. Don’t just say we demand a flat rate, we don't free electricity.”

Political analyst Dr Ralph Mathekga said the march was a defining moment for the EFF in terms of its stance towards the Ramaphosa administration and the beginning of a turbulent period for the power utility. 

“The Eskom issue will most likely unite people that have never worked together. You might see more marches from communities and even unions who are against load shedding and the privatisation of it. 

"That will create problems for Ramaphosa because some of those unions are part of Cosatu,” Mathekga said. 

Unisa’s Professor Somadoda Fikeni said he believes the party’s point was made in terms of their fight against Gordhan more than on ensuring that load shedding is eradicated. 

“In as far as the guaranteeing that you don’t need to have load shedding, I think now we should accept that is beyond even anyone, including Eskom which has been saying the system which has been sagging for some time has reached a critical point. 

"Even if you made a promise that nothing will happen, it will still happen,” Fikeni said.

“When they said black executives and service providers should not be marginalised, the point that has been raised not just by the EFF might put more pressure for the current executive to do more and not to be seen doing that. That might be the real effect.”

* Story has been updated to reflect comment from Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko.

The Sunday Independent

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