President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and Corruption in his capacity as the President and former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS
President Cyril Ramaphosa appeared before the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and Corruption in his capacity as the President and former Deputy President of the Republic of South Africa. Picture: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

Ramaphosa denies Koko and Molefe's claims that he wanted to influence the running of Eskom

By Zintle Mahlati Time of article published Aug 11, 2021

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has denied claims that he sought to influence the running of Eskom to the benefit of mining company Optimum Holdings.

Ramaphosa appeared at the inquiry on Wednesday and faced questions on his role as the deputy president of the country between 2014 and 2018.

Previous testimony heard at the inquiry had implicated Ramaphosa. Former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe had testified that Ramaphosa had sought to use his position as deputy president to benefit Optimum Coal Mine – a company that a coal supply agreement with Eskom.

Molefe had also alleged that load shedding started after Ramaphosa was appointed.

Ramaphosa denied these allegations saying he had sold his shares at Optimum Holdings when he went into government.

He also denied having influenced Eskom executives and the board.

“I participated in a consortium with Glencore in the acquisition of Optimum Holding, which acquisition was concluded in June 2012. I acquired an effective 9.64% shareholding in Optimum Holdings and became non-executive chairperson of Optimum Holdings.

“I had no operational involvement in Optimum Holdings or Optimum Mine. Following my election as ANC deputy president in December 2012, I initiated a review of my business interests to avoid potential conflicts,” he told the inquiry.

Ramaphosa also explained that in his role as deputy president, he was appointed to oversee the turnaround of state-owned enterprises as part of the inter-ministerial committee.

There was a technical war room appointed to help Eskom, which Ramaphosa said he was not part of.

“The Eskom technical war room was not involved in Eskom management or operational issues. I had no interest in, nor any opportunity to, influence Eskom’s decision-making process in matters pertaining to Optimum,” Ramaphosa said.

The president also dealt with allegations made by former Eskom executive Matshela Koko who accused him of being behind his removal from Eskom.

Ramaphosa said the decision that saw the removal of Eskom executives was a tough one and that there were growing concerns over Eskom.

He said a meeting involving former president Jacob Zuma, former minister Lynne Brown and others had discussed the risks faced by Eskom and decided that changes had to be made to the board and management.

“Mr Koko contends that his removal was an instance of unlawful interference in Eskom’s affairs, executive overreach and state capture. The suggestion that government cannot lawfully intervene in Eskom’s affairs — even to avert a crisis — is incorrect.

“As a shareholder, we needed to take action,” he said.

POLITICAL BUREAU

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