WATCH | DD Mabuza is the senior politician involved in Eskom corruption: DA's Steenhuisen

17 March 2023 - 06:24
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DA leader John Steenhuisen has identified former deputy president David Mabuza as the cabinet member allegedly involved in corruption at Eskom.

Steenhuisen told parliament on Thursday that in rejecting the establishment of an ad hoc committee to investigate corruption and unabated operations of criminal networks at the power utility, the ANC was protecting its former deputy president.

Mabuza resigned as an MP this month, effectively bringing his five-year tenure as the country’s deputy president to an end.

“We all know who this person being referred to is. It’s Mr DD Mabuza and we all know how connected he is within the ANC, and we all know how terrified the ANC is of him (De Ruyter) releasing this information. That is the reality here today,” said Steenhuisen ending a debate where ANC MPs rejected his request for an ad hoc committee.

“The ANC is going to wait until he is safely in Russia like it waited with the Guptas to be in Dubai and Mr Agrizzi to be in Italy before this parliament slowly gets off and does anything,” he said.

He later told TimesLIVE that Mabuza was the senior person that former Eskom CEO Andre de Ruyter was referring to when he said a senior politician was involved in the contracts, hit squads and all sorts of crimes at Eskom.

De Ruyter told eNCA’s Annika Larsen that “there was one particular high-level politician that was involved in this” and that he had told a cabinet minister about it.

The minister in question “looked at a senior official and said, ‘I guess it was inevitable that it would come out anyway’.”

Several attempts to reach Mabuza failed, while his former head of office, Thami Ngwenya, rejected Steenhuisen’s allegations. 

“That’s nonsense,” said Ngwenya, who headed Mabuza’s office while he was the deputy president of the republic.

The article will be updated as soon as we get comment from Mabuza.

Steenhuisen urged MPs to agree to his motion to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate allegations of systematic sabotage and looting at Eskom.

“As the elected representatives of the people of South Africa, our role today is to debate the need for this thorough inquiry into organised corruption at Eskom, and then to vote on it.

“The fact is, Eskom will never be fixed until we know who and what is breaking it.”

He said only a parliamentary inquiry can give a proper platform and protection to the innocent people who know what is happening at Eskom and who have been threatened and subdued into silence by the connected syndicates that “extend right into the upper reaches of government”.

He said the allegations made by De Ruyter were serious and were made in intelligence reports containing detailed information gathered by private investigators.

“The reports tell us that four criminal cartels are operating inside Eskom, plundering its resources, bleeding it dry, and bringing the country to its knees.

“These four criminal groups steal billions of rand by controlling Eskom’s procurement processes. All the people in the buying and selling process are either part of the criminal cartel, or they are bribed.”

These cartels break Eskom infrastructure on purpose so that they can profit from all the work and parts needed to fix them again, said Steenhuisen.

He said the reports reveal that a senior ANC leader:

  • Exercises firm control over contracts awarded for several types of departments in Mpumalanga province.
  • Controls people high up in the Mpumalanga power stations to approve contracts for his friends and family.
  • Controls senior officials in Mpumalanga, such as police, traffic police chiefs and city councillors.
  • Information suggests that contract beneficiaries pay [him] kickbacks in cash for tenders awarded due to his influence. Rumours are that he hides some of his money in JoJo water tanks.
  • Should any investigation be initiated in Mpumalanga, an informant will report to [him] and give instructions to certain senior officials to ensure the investigation is stopped.
  • The indications are that he controls at least one hit squad operating in Mpumalanga.

Steenhuisen said agreeing to an inquiry should be an easy decision to put South Africa first.

But ANC MPs begged to differ.

Mikateko Mahlaule (ANC) said it was premature to call for an ad hoc committee as there were only allegations that are untested.

He said parliament’s normal processes for oversight and accountability have not broken down and the portfolio committees on public enterprises, energy and the standing committee on public accounts were sufficiently empowered to deal with Eskom.

He said those committees were preparing to deal with the issue and establish facts.

“What you are doing ... is to put the cart before the horse in expectation to get to a destination. It cannot be done. It is not done,” said Mahlaule.

Another ANC MP, Khaya Magaxa, who chairs the public enterprises committee to which Eskom accounts, was more scathing in dismissing both De Ruyter’s allegations and the DA’s request.

He said they were rejecting the establishment of an ad hoc committee because it came from incomplete and misleading conclusion made by De Ruyter.

“De Ruyter’s conclusion that the ANC-led government will forestall Eskom’s ability to address corruption and sabotage is not correct. Eskom has dramatically improved its ability to escape the box it had been put in during the heyday of state capture,” said Magaxa.

He said after the December 2022 deployment of military personnel at four power stations in Mpumalanga, cracks began to emerge within the coal cartels that supply poor quality coal intended to sabotage the utility’s infrastructure and operations.

Collaborative partnership between Eskom, the SANDF and the Hawks shows that Eskom is proactively committed to initiating the process of implementing conceptual relevant solutions to corruption, fraud and sabotage without a parliamentary ad hoc committee, he said.

While the examples of corruption, sabotage and fraud at Eskom go beyond coal to include diesel, valves and cables, the most important thing is that acts of crime are no longer everyday occurrences for most of Eskom’s power stations, said Magaxa. “In short, Eskom is not irreparably broken as the DA would wish, instead it suffers from a few ailments such as corruption, fraud and sabotage, which are the legacy of state capture.”

He described corruption allegations by De Ruyter as “childish”, saying the former CEO behaved like “a spoilt rich child who throws his toys all over the room because his R18m (salary) has reached a dead-end”.

De Ruyter actually earned R7m a year.

Magaxa accused De Ruyter of using Eskom to drive “his independent power producers’ agenda to capture Eskom to private accumulation at the expense of the poor of this country who by and large are black people”.

“Now because he is a white man, bourgeoisie racist media including these pathetic racist political parties had to believe this, including this former homeland general who is excited about court,” he said referring to UDM leader Bantu Holomisa who supported the establishment of an ad hoc committee and has taken the government to court over load-shedding.

The EFF’s Veronica Mente indicated that the party would support an ad hoc committee that would get to the bottom of corruption at Eskom, and would inquire into all coal contracts at the power utility, inquire into all evergreen contracts and into all the contracts between Eskom and smelting companies that get electricity “practically for free”.

“Any ad hoc committee that does not seek to investigate these and only focuses on the two times street thugs based in Luthuli House will only scratch the surface of corruption at Eskom.”

The house will vote next Thursday on whether to establish the ad hoc committee.

PODCAST | Without political will, can South Africa’s corruption crisis be overcome?


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