Opinion: Molefe sent back to Eskom to salvage nuclear deal

15 May 2017 - 09:59 By Justice Malala
AG, SHAME: Brian Molefe, before 'quittin' as Eskom CEO, sobbed as he spoke about his relationship with the Guptas following the release of a damning public protector's report into state capture.
AG, SHAME: Brian Molefe, before 'quittin' as Eskom CEO, sobbed as he spoke about his relationship with the Guptas following the release of a damning public protector's report into state capture.

The outrageous return of Brian Molefe to lead Eskom confirms a few things about the state of our nation and our leaders.

First, the Jacob Zuma faction of the ANC is so hell-bent on looting South Africa that any semblance of shame is out the window. The wanton looting that occurred with the sale of the Optimum Mine to the Guptas and Duduzane Zuma was just a dress rehearsal.

With Molefe back in the saddle, this sort of practice is going into overdrive. The Zuma faction does not care that we can all see what is going on here. It is their time to eat and they will keep their snouts in the trough.

The real goal, however, is still the eye-wateringly expensive, unaffordable and unnecessary nuclear procurement programme. Zuma wants it and he will have it. For whom? The Russians. Molefe's return to Eskom completes the circle to ensure that it happens.

On Saturday morning, new Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi announced that South Africa's nuclear procurement process will start afresh. Who will be front and centre in this process? Kubayi, Molefe and our fresh new finance minister, Malusi Gigaba.

So let us talk about Gigaba, for he is central to the entire thing but has not shown his hand yet.

Here is what we know. Zuma was desperate to consolidate his capture of the state and its handover to the Guptas by bringing a yes-man to the Treasury. He tried to bring the discredited, weak-kneed Des van Rooyen to the job in December 2015 but that did not work. People could see through Zuma's ploy.

The man was trying to capture the Treasury for the Guptas and his cronies. Revelations in the public protector's State of Capture report, putting Van Rooyen in Saxonwold on seven consecutive days before his appointment, point to the rot at the heart of the Zuma administration.

Then Zuma hustled his golden boy Molefe into parliament to try to get him into the Treasury. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize, secretary-general Gwede Mantashe and the SA Communist Party told him: "No ways."

So why did Zuma hastily pick Gigaba? On the Sunday after his midnight appointment, Gigaba was asked several questions by Financial Mail deputy editor Sikonathi Mantshantsha.

"Do you have bank accounts outside South Africa? Do you have any assets outside South Africa? What is your relationship with the Guptas? Julius Malema publicly accused you of being corrupt. You didn't respond to that. Are you corrupt?"

His response was telling. He said his lawyers will respond to the Julius Malema accusations. He did not venture a response to the rest of Mantshantsha's questions.

Why do you need lawyers to confirm whether you have assets and accounts outside South Africa? Why must lawyers confirm your friends and why must lawyers state whether you are corrupt or not?

In his new book, The Republic of Gupta, award-winning investigative journalist Pieter-Louis Myburgh writes that in 2011 the heads of South Africa's three intelligence agencies wrote a report warning about the influence of the Guptas on the president and some ministers.

Myburgh writes: "The State Security Agency started to compile a list of government ministers who appeared to be suspiciously close to the Guptas.

"It included then public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba, then home affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma ..."

Stories about Gigaba's closeness to the Guptas are rife. Last week, one of his former associates tweeted about him allegedly flying with the Guptas to KwaZulu-Natal.

EFF leader Julius Malema spoke at length last year about the relationship between Gigaba and the Guptas.

So two issues arise. Why was Gigaba so palatable to Zuma to take over the Treasury? Is it because he will do what Nene and Gordhan would not do - unlock the safe for Zuma and his cronies so that they can play around with unaffordable nuclear spending?

Gigaba's mere presence at the Treasury has already achieved the Guptas' first goal. Remember that former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas told us that when the Guptas offered him the finance job, they said the first order of business in the office would be to get rid of several people.

The Sunday Times reported: "He was given a list of people to get rid of, including director-general Lungisa Fuzile, Ismail Momoniat, Andrew Donaldson and Kenneth Brown. The four, who have been with the Treasury for more than 22 years, are among the fiercest critics of the nuclear procurement programme, which they believe would bankrupt South Africa."

Fuzile is leaving this week, just six weeks after Gigaba arrived. Brown is long gone. Last week, we learnt that Donaldson is following him out of the door. Wait and watch as others leave.

The truth, sadly, is that circumstantial evidence is piling up that Gigaba ascended to the Treasury to do one thing and one thing only: open the gates for looting by Zuma and his cronies. If Gigaba had even an iota of integrity in him, he would have declined the minute Zuma offered him the job. But he could not. That is because, like Van Rooyen and Molefe, he was on for the job. That is why he will not define his connection to Zuma's best friends or answer the questions that the Financial Mail put to him.

The circle is now complete: Gordhan and Jonas out, Molefe and Gigaba in. Nuclear procurement is on its way. Zuma and the Guptas will be smiling all the way to the bank.