Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe’s office has denied that the planned sign-off on 27 renewable energy projects will potentially place him in a conflict of interest due to his wife’s business interests in the energy sector.
In a social media post that surfaced this week, an anonymous source warned that by virtue of Patrice Motsepe’s African Rainbow Energy & Power being allegedly linked to renewable energy projects “worth billions of rands”, and the fact that Rabede is married to Motsepe’s sister, who has interests in the energy sector, the minister might do better to recuse himself from the process altogether.
The message also drew links between Dr Tsepo Motsepe’s marriage to Cyril Ramaphosa as another potential red flag that there could be an embedded business relationship that may unfairly advantage the Shanduka group of companies. The supposed tip-off did concede that Ramaphosa has ceded the running of the company to his brother, Douglas.
Mmabatho Ramompi from Radebe’s office said the minister was planning to sign off on the 27 renewable energy projects “as soon as the court process has concluded” and that “a new date will be announced”.
She denied the assertion that the minister was planning to “speedily” sign off the agreements to benefit family members, saying the “signing of these agreements is long overdue”.
“The delays are not good for investor confidence. These projects were all procured in accordance with long-standing government policy and statutory prescripts during 2014 and the preferred bidders were announced by the former minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson on 15 December 2014 (Bid Window 3.5) and 16 April 2015 (Bid Window 4) respectively,” wrote Ramompi.
Ramompi confirmed Radebe is still married to businesswoman Bridgette Radebe and pointed out “she has not been involved at all in the IPP [independent power producer] Programme.”
She said any perception of conflict of interest, either in respect of the minister’s wife being a sister to the state president’s wife, and also those related to Patrice Motsepe “is unfounded.”
“Only the outcome of all evaluation and negotiation processes are shared with the Department of Energy after agreement has been reached,” she said.
“The procurement and evaluation of all IPP Projects (including these 27 projects) are undertaken at arm’s length from the Department of Energy and the rest of Government by the IPP Office (a partnership between the Department of Energy, National Treasury and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) with independent specialist advisors in a secured environment.
“Only the outcome of all evaluation and negotiation processes are shared with the Department of Energy after agreement has been reached,” Ramompi explained.
She reiterated that any perception of a new form of state capture was misplaced.
“It must be very clear that the minister was not at all involved in the procurement and negotiation process. As explained, the procurement and evaluation of all IPP Projects are conducted independently in accordance with clear and transparent qualification criteria and bid rules.
“In terms of these bid rules, the private sector chooses their partners and government has no control over it as long as the credentials of the partners are aligned with the objective, clear and transparent procurement rules.”