Citizen Reporter
3 minute read
10 Oct 2019
4:12 pm

Ramaphosa accuses DA MP of ‘hallucinating’ his link to Eskom’s ‘state capture project’

Citizen Reporter

A DA MP said the president 'failed the country' and should 'shoulder the blame' for the situation at the power utility.

22 August 2019. President Cyril Ramaphosa during a question and answer session in parliament | Image: Twitter/ @khuselas

President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for the first time since the convening of the sixth administration on Thursday afternoon in a question-and-answer session that saw DA MP Dennis Ryder accuse the president of being involved in “state capture at Eskom”.

The MP said the president had “failed the country” and should “shoulder the blame” for the struggling energy utility’s current situation, as he has been in charge of overseeing the turnaround at Eskom since 2014.

“Minister Gordhan is on record saying Eskom was a state capture project,” he added. “You were complicit; why did you not intervene to save Eskom and the country’s economy when you had the chance and you were given the full responsibility to do so?” Ryder asked.

In response, Ramaphosa asked: “Is that the question?” before laughing and saying, “So I was the leader of the state capture project, very nice.”

He then said he needed to be quite direct in answering the question as Ryder was “hallucinating a little bit”.

Ramaphosa said Eskom faced a “deep-rooted problem of corruption and state capture”.

“My own sense is that if there ever was an entity of government that was totally and completely captured it was Eskom,” he added, saying it was “easy to capture” and an attractive target, being “the biggest corporation in the country which generates revenue” far greater than others.

“Once they set their eyes on Eskom they went in with a great deal of effectiveness.”

The president then said that “quite a lot” of what was going on at Eskom was “hidden” at the time, and has only now come to light through “various commissions that are now under way”.

READ MORE: DA can save SA from ‘all-out economic crisis’, Maimane tells ‘silent’ Ramaphosa

Of his work overseeing the turnaround at Eskom he said: “Even as we had the war room, we could see there were challenges and those challenges were technical as well as financial, but it had to take a lot of digging to finally find that in the end some of the suppliers were overpaid, quite a lot of money was siphoned out without invoicing and all of that.

“So let us pay tribute where tribute is due, to the work the various commissions are doing to fathom exactly what has happened at Eskom.”

Ramaphosa said while it’s “easy to to point fingers, and to find people to blame, my own approach is let us all work together to try and reposition Eskom because Eskom is just too big to fail, it’s just too important to fail”.

He said South Africans should “look at the restructuring that is ongoing” and “applaud that we can now see the light of day”.

The president said government would now “appoint a CEO, add to and augment the board, deal with the debt, deal with the operational aspects and the technical aspects, and deal with the challenge of non-payment”.

He added that Eskom’s situation was “a challenge all of us should face up to”.

“If ever there was a time, this is not a time for finger-pointing; this is a time for trying to bring good ideas together to solve the problem,” Ramaphosa concluded.

His answer was met with applause, although Ryder could be heard criticising it and saying it was “not a direct answer”.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman.) 

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