Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS
Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: GCIS

The referral for a Competition Commission probe into potential collusion and uncompetitive behaviour implicating Shanduka Coal is set to come under intense scrutiny this week, with experts and companies suggesting it is baseless and aimed at embarrassing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

As the campaign to lead the ANC gears up, dirty tricks are being used to discredit political opponents. Ramaphosa, one of the frontrunners, has been at the receiving end.

The complaint was sent to the Competition Commission in October by an MP, who chose to remain anonymous.

The complaint mentions disproportionately long contracts for the supply of coal to Eskom, claiming some major companies have contracts stretching as far as 2033. The referral claims smaller companies supplying coal to Eskom are either owned, controlled or influenced by the larger suppliers.

Ramaphosa has denied accusations of collusion and uncompetitive conduct and has explained he had disposed of his stake in Shanduka in 2014.

The complaint says Eskom concluded exclusive supply agreements with Anglo American, Exxaro and BHP for the Kriel, Matla, Lethabo, Tutuka and Kendal power stations and that smaller coal suppliers were unable to compete because of the exclusive agreements.

Energy analyst Chris Yelland said he believed there was a political agenda behind the complaint and did not show understanding of Eskom’s long-term procurement practices.

"I think the complainant lacks a proper understanding of procurements on long-term cost-plus basis. For example, the suggestion that Eskom prepays for coal delivered is wrong. The reality is that for cost-plus mines Eskom pays for the capital costs but does not pay for the delivery of coal upfront," said Yelland.