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Africa

Concerns over allegations that ANC caucus summoned Eskom executives to testify

Some opposition parties in Parliament have expressed their concern about reports that African National Congress (ANC) Caucus asked to be briefed by Eskom executives earlier this week over the country’s energy crisis.

Opposition parties say if these reports are true, they are further proof that the governing party is meddling with state-owned entities.

They say SOEs are only accountable to parliament through multiparty oversight committees. While ANC Chief Whip, Pemmy Majodina refused to confirm or deny the claims, Eskom’s spokesperson Sikhonathi Mantshantsha has told SABC News that the utility’s leadership did not attend ANC parliamentary caucus.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) Chief Whip Siviwe Gwarube says it would be unfortunate if reports that ANC Caucus ordered Eskom leadership to brief it about the current load shedding.

“No top management. No top officials of an SOE should be required to go and report to the ANC caucus. More so, when they are threatened with sabotaging the ANC’s prospects in 2024. What’s needed now is urgent action by the president to make sure that we are implementing the urgent reforms that are needed so that we can keep the lights on. South Africa can ill afford to be plunged into darkness as long as it has. And the ANC needs to stay out of the management of the SOEs so that we can have some of these companies running and provide the critical services,” says Gwarube.

ACDP’s Steve Swart says only parliament through its oversight committees is supposed to hold Eskom accountable.

“We will be extremely concerned if this did happen or if it is planned as Eskom is constitutionally accountable to parliament through various committees including Scopa and the public enterprises’ portfolio committee. This is also largely due to the ANC government that Eskom, and the country finds itself in this devastating state of ongoing load shedding after years of cadre deployment, state capture and corruption. Parliament as a whole and not the ANC caucus must step up its oversight duty considerably and hold Eskom and the government accountable,” says Swart.

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Chief Whip, Narend Sing agrees with Swart adding that no state-owned entity should account to a political party.

“If that has been the case then it is totally out of order. Because Eskom should really be briefing the responsible minister or the cluster of ministers on what is going on within Eskom. Alternatively, the other official route should be the portfolio committee on public enterprises which is responsible for Eskom where all political parties have representation. We trust that this kind of briefing did not take place. And if there is a need for Eskom to do a briefing of parliamentarians, then contact should be made with the head of committees,” Sing explains.

Both United Democratic Movement (UDM) Chief Whip Nqabayomzi Nkwankwa and NFP Member of Parliament, Shaik Emam say these claims have come as no surprise.

“This is the very same national congress that has not been able to separate between the party and the state that has consistently throughout its term in office blurred the lines between the party and the state,” says Nkwankwa.

“The National Freedom Party is not surprised at the decision by Eskom to address the ANC on crises unfolding at Eskom. We are all aware of some of the confessions made in the Zondo commission by some of the officials of state-owned entities including Eskom implicated in corruption, looting and maladministration that they have been attending ANC caucuses and meetings,” says Emam.

ANC Chief Whip, Pemmy Majodina declined to comment on the claims saying the ANC Caucus will issue a statement in due course.

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