News / South Africa

Yadhana Jadoo
3 minute read
8 Mar 2018
7:05 am

Former Eskom chair Ngubane riles inquiry

Yadhana Jadoo

'Arrogant' Ngubane’s conduct was 'unbefitting for someone under whose chairmanship Eskom had gone to the brink of collapse'.

Ngubane abruptly resigned from the Eskom board amid a slew of corruption allegations against him.

Former Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane was yesterday called a “delinquent” for the answers he gave to parliament’s public enterprises portfolio committee, which is conducting an inquiry into state capture at the power utility.

Not only did Ngubane defend embattled former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, he rubbished questions asked by MPs.

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said this smacked of sheer arrogance on Ngubane’s part. During the session, Ngubane accused DA MP Natasha Mazzone of making assumptions when she asked why there had been an “obsession” to keep Molefe at Eskom following former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s report into state capture linking Molefe to the notorious Gupta family.

“I would go so far as to say it’s an obsession, given your reaction at a press conference when you shouted at people … because Mr Molefe had a breakdown, had tears and walked off the stage,” Mazzone said.

“There was also the fact that there was a near physical incident between you and a reporter. You had screamed at that reporter for having done something to Mr Molefe.

“Why this overprotectiveness and why this need to go out of your way to make sure there was a pension scheme for Mr Molefe?” she added.

“You are making a lot of assumptions,” Ngubane said. “At that time we were on the cusp of a national blackout. Molefe brought such joy to us and the country when people’s food was not rotting in their refrigerators. There was no one [else] who could have turned [around] Eskom at that stage that I know of.”

Outa chairperson Wayne Duvenage said Ngubane’s conduct was unbefitting for someone under whose chairmanship Eskom had gone to the brink of collapse.

“You are listening to a chairperson that has given favourable contracts to the Guptas, who sits there smugly and arrogantly and says nothing was untoward.

“That is sheer nonsense, arrogance and a delinquent director status.

“Don’t tell us that Brian Molefe was the best thing that happened to Eskom. It was the worst thing. He is shocking and despicable.

“We have laid charges against him on other matters. His time will come and he will have to answer these questions more sincerely and seriously than he has,” Duvenage said.

“We look forward to him being held accountable for his conduct through possible charges against him.”

Furthermore, the committee rejected former SAA board chairperson Dudu Myeni’s reasons for not appearing before the inquiry.

Myeni, who had been called to testify about former Eskom chairperson Zola Tsotsi’s claim that she instructed him to suspend executives, was booked off sick.

Committee chairperson Zukiswa Rantho said Myeni had sent a written submission.

“It is unacceptable for Ms Myeni to only submit a written submission. It is in her best interests to appear before the inquiry, as serious allegations have been levelled against her,” the committee said.

Also read:

Gupta associates allegedly ‘drafted’ Ben Ngubane’s first speech, #GuptaLeaks reveal

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