POLITICAL WEEK AHEAD: Ramaphosa to answer Eskom questions in the National Assembly
Inquiry into state capture at the power utility continues
Eskom is likely to dominate the week ahead: President Cyril Ramaphosa will have to answer questions about the company when he appears in parliament this week, while the state-capture commission of inquiry will continue its hearings into corruption at the ailing power utility.
The commission, headed by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo, will on Monday hear testimony from Sincedile Shweni, a specialist on funding execution in Eskom’s treasury department.
Eskom was one of the state-owned entities at the heart of the state-capture project. Jabu Mabuza, chair of the Eskom board, told the commission the utility was the “main theatre” for state capture.
Mabuza and his board were appointed as part of the clean-up at the utility, which has a R419bn debt it cannot service through its revenue.
The government announced in February it will support Eskom with R23bn a year for three years, rising to R150bn over 10 years to shore up the utility’s balance sheet.
Finance minister Tito Mboweni said the government support will be subject to the implementation of a tough restructuring plan, including splitting the company into three parts.
The issue of stabilising the utility is likely to be raised in the National Assembly on Thursday, when Ramaphosa will answer oral questions.
EFF leader Julius Malema is expected to ask the president about the total cost to the power utility of the independent power producers (IPPs) that signed the latest round of power-purchasing agreements. He is also expected to ask whether Ramaphosa has found that the costs of the agreements will lead to Eskom’s collapse if they are not cancelled immediately.
The EFF has been vocal in its opposition to the IPPs, calling on Mboweni ahead of the budget speech to cancel all the purchasing agreements with the IPPs.
The ANC’s Fikile Majola is expected to ask Ramaphosa for details of the proposed restructuring of Eskom and how it will address the energy crisis in the country.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane will ask Ramaphosa about facilities management company Bosasa and whether, following testimony at the state-capture commission, the president will instruct the cabinet to conduct an audit of all contracts between national departments and the company.
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has said it will ask Ramaphosa to extend its 2009 Bosasa investigation so it can probe new evidence coming out of the commission.
Also in parliament, the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (Necsa) will brief the portfolio committee on energy on Tuesday.
Energy minister Jeff Radebe disbanded the Necsa board in December, but ousted chair Kelvin Kemm, suspended CEO Phumzile Tshelane and fired director Pamela Bosman have approached the courts to have their removal set aside.
The standing committee on finance will meet on Wednesday to hear the Treasury’s response to the Banks Amendment Bill. The bill could pave the way for state-owned enterprises to be granted banking licences.
Trade and industry minister Rob Davies and Busi Mabuza, chair of the newly appointed Brics Business Council, will brief media on Tuesday about the international mid-term meeting of the five member states’ business councils, which will be held in SA in April.