POLITICAL NEWS - The public protector has launched another indirect attack on President Cyril Ramaphosa in initiating an investigation into Eskom’s contracts with independent power producers (IPPs).
One of the beneficiaries of the IPP contracts is African Rainbow Energy and Power, owned by Patrice Motsepe, who is the brother-in-law of former energy minister Jeff Radebe and Ramaphosa.
Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has written to Eskom board chairperson Jabu Mabuza asking for documents and the names, designations and contact details of all officials involved in the procurement processes leading to the awarding of contracts to the 27 IPPs.
Eskom deputy spokesperson Dikatso Mothae confirmed yesterday that Mkhwebane had sent the letter and the power utility would provide the required documents.
“We can confirm we have received a letter from the public protector and will provide information as requested,” said Mothae.
The complaint to the public protector was laid by the Anti-Poverty Forum, which raised concerns about the cost of the IPPs to be borne by Eskom.
According to the forum, it was estimated that the IPPs’ 20-year contracts for bid windows 0, 1, 2, 3, 3.5 and the new bid windows 4 and 4b would in total cost South Africa more than R1.4 trillion. Founder of the Anti-Poverty Forum Phapano Phasha, who was associated with the Gupta-funded ANN7 TV station, wrote the letter to the public protector earlier this year at a time when she was an ANC member.
Later, she laid charges against former acting South African Revenue Service commissioner Mark Kingon, and then, in her capacity as an ANC member, laid a complaint against Public Enterprises Minister Gordhan to ANC integrity commission chairperson George Mashamba.
She requested that Gordhan be required to step aside from all his positions within the state until his name had been cleared.
In her letter, Phasha said it was inconceivable that a member of the ANC’s national executive committee could attack the office of the public protector.
Last week, Mkhwebane released a report on her investigation into the president. It found that Ramaphosa had misled parliament in his response to a question about a R500,000 donation from Bosasa for his presidential campaign in 2017.
Mkhwebane found that Ramaphosa violated the executive ethics code in that he exposed himself to a situation where there was the risk of a conflict of interest between himself and his son through businesses owned by Bosasa.
Political analyst Daniel Silke said that if the allegations against Ramaphosa stuck, he would face serious questions about his credibility and conduct.
Silke said Ramaphosa was not only facing a breakdown within the ANC after reports that he was in “fighting mode” during the NEC meeting this weekend, but that the public protector had seriously damaged his credibility.
“What we are seeing is a deep internal destabilisation to erode his power base within the ANC and to frustrate his ability to effect policy in the short term,” said Silke.
“He is probably feeling a deep sense of frustration and concern that he is being undermined and his character is being attacked.
“It is not ideal for him to be going through all this within his first 100 days in office,” said Silke.
He said if the attacks against Ramaphosa were to continue with the aim of removing him at the ANC’s national general council next year, then the president should brace himself for a long fight.