Ben Ngubane, Eskom chairman, speaks at the media briefing. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Ben Ngubane, Eskom chairman, speaks at the media briefing. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane on Tuesday rejected accusations made by former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramathlodi as "preposterous". Ramathlodi accused Ngubane and Eskom CEO Brian Molefe of actively assisting the Gupta family "hijack a coal mine".

The explosive allegations were revealed by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and published by Eyewitness News. The allegations surfaced a day after Molefe’s controversial return to Eskom as CEO.

Ramathlodi told amaBhungane that he was pressured into effectively blackmailing Glencore‚ owner of the Optimum coal mine that supplied coal to Eskom’s Hendrina power station.

Questioned by the media after an address at the African Utility Week conference in Cape Town, Ngubane said Ramathlodi’s claim was "something that is impossible": "We cannot instruct a minister what to do. We take our problems to the ministers, we ask for help when we need help. For him to claim that we actually made him take a decision about something is preposterous."

Ngubane also rejected allegations of corruption made against Molefe by former public protector Thuli Madonsela in relation to the Eskom coal contracts with Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources. Instead, he said Molefe was acting in the best interests of Eskom by negotiating a better deal at a time when winter was approaching and the need for coal supplies was dire.

Molefe was scheduled to be the keynote speaker at the energy conference‚ where the South African Communist Party mounted a protest about his reappointment‚ but Ngubane said he was attending to other "urgent matters" and was not "scared" to be there.

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