Fri Sep 22 13:48:41 SAST 2017

Corrupt‚ me? Impossible! Ben Ngubane rubbishes ex-minister's Gupta claims

By Farren Collins | 2017-05-16 13:08:41.0

Former SABC chairman, Ben Ngubane, answers questions in parliament on Friday. Pictures: Esa Alexander

Eskom chairman Ben Ngubane says it is “impossible” that he and CEO Brian Molefe could be implicated in an alleged corrupt coal deal within the parastatal.

Ngubane was responding to claims on Tuesday by former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramathlodi‚ who reportedly said the two men tried to force him to suspend the mining licences of coal supplier Glencore so the Gupta family could buy the Optimum coal mine from them.

“He thinks something that’s impossible‚” Ngubane told journalists after speaking at the opening of African Utility Week at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

“We can’t instruct a minister what to do. We take our problems to the minister [and] we ask for help. For the minister to claim that we made him take a decision about something is preposterous.”

Molefe implicated in Gupta coal mine 'hijack'

Molefe was reinstated as Eskom CEO on Friday after he left the post in November following a damning State Capture report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela which linked him to the Saxonwold-based Gupta family.

Ngubane said Molefe had chosen to take early retirement in the wake of the report last year‚ and that he had tried to talk him out of it.

“After the public protector report he decided to exercise his early retirement option. I [tried to] persuade him that it would be disastrous for the company. [But the] board accepted it.”

Following Molefe’s reinstatement‚ the ANC called for the Eskom board to dissolved and the decision overturned. Ngubane said that was “their opinion”‚ and the board was there to “serve at the government’s pleasure”.

Duduzane Zuma tried to persuade Ramatlhodi to meet Ajay Gupta

Molefe was down as keynote speaker at the energy conference‚ where the SACP mounted a protest about his reappointment‚ but Ngubane said that he was attending to other “urgent matters” and was not “scared” to be there.

“[The minister] is carrying on where he stopped: making affordable electricity [available] to the people by paying back government guarantees‚ generating enough revenue [and] creating savings through efficiencies.”

 

 

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