President Cyril Ramaphosa’s testimony on the last day of the Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture sparked a social media campaign calling on former public protector Thuli Madonsela to apologise to former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.
Ramaphosa on Thursday said he was the one who recommended Brian Molefe to then president Jacob Zuma to appoint him as Eskom CEO in 2015.
“One of the things I then did when I saw president Zuma was to say, ‘Let us appoint Brian Molefe as the CEO of Eskom [and] close the war room.’ And he has proven himself to be quite an effective CEO and let’s give him the responsibility,” Ramaphosa said.
The president was responding to a question about the abrupt suspension of Eskom’s five executives in March 2015.
“For me, it was a choice of Brian Molefe, who I’ve come to know over the years as being a truly effective CEO, who I had also worked with in another state-owned enterprise, and we worked extremely well together. That was Sasria,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said at the time that Zuma did not have suggestions on the appointment of the next CEO of Eskom.
“I also wanted to disengage from the process and I then felt that Brian Molefe was the man who was able to do the work. He [Zuma] didn’t come up with the name, I came up with the name.”
Asked whether he thought the appointment of Molefe was the Guptas’ ploy to facilitate state capture at Eskom, Ramaphosa said he did not think about that as he was “exasperated” by the suspensions of the executives.
“I must say that I was not alive and aware of the appointment or the bringing in of Gupta-linked people. I was merely looking at it as a clear situation where you want to bring about efficiency into Eskom. That’s all I was looking at,” he said.
“When I made the suggestion I had no clue, even awareness, of all these issues. It was purely on the basis of what I knew about his capability.”
The #ThuliMustApologise hashtag has been trending on social media after her critics called on her to apologise for their contention that she had alleged Molefe was appointed by the Gupta family.
In her final report in 2016, Madonsela recommended that a judicial commission of inquiry be appointed to investigate the Gupta family’s influence on Cabinet appointments and state-owned entities’ boards and tenders.
Molefe’s name was also mentioned as one of those who had relations with the controversial Gupta family. Madonsela included cellphone evidence revealing that Molefe had made phone calls to Ajay Gupta and also placed him at the family’s home in Saxonwold at least 19 times between August 2015 and March 2016.
He resigned months after the report.
Following Ramaphosa’s testimony, Madonsela was accused of writing in her report that Molefe was appointed by the Guptas.
She has been accused of destroying Molefe’s career.
But Madonsela says those throwing the allegations against her should carefully read her report on Molefe before using hashtags to make her apologise for what she never said.
“To the paid bots, I understand you are doing your job and to those whose patronage financial streams have been interrupted by anti-state capture action, I understand your pain, but please read the #StateOfCapture report and base whatever you say on it, not fiction #JustAThought,” she tweeted in response on Friday.
Additional reporting by Thapelo Lekabe