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Jeff Radebe's appointment not wise one

Jeff Radebe.
Jeff Radebe.
Image: GCIS

We applaud billionaire and mining magnate Patrice Motsepe for finally breaking his silence over claims that his brothers-in-law, President Cyril Ramaphosa and energy minister Jeff Radebe, were pushing policies that were meant to benefit him at the expense of the power utility Eskom and the country at large.

By keeping silent for this long, Motsepe has allowed for rumours and doubts to swell into a huge political storm with the public - fresh from revelations of state capture by the Guptas; Bosasa and the likes - left uncertain as to what to believe.

Motsepe yesterday denied that his renewable energy business, the African Rainbow Energy and Power (Arep), benefited from the fact that Ramaphosa and Radebe were in government. He went to great lengths to try and prove that government's approach to include independent power producers in the country's energy mix had nothing to do with enriching him.

He went as far as to state that he and his family were "from old money", suggesting that they did not become rich only after the advent of democracy in SA.

But even in his denials, Motsepe does concede that he has a perception problem when it comes to Arep.

We submit, however, that the problem does not lie with him. It lies with Ramaphosa and his decision to make Radebe the energy minister.

While we are not suggesting that the president or, for that matter Radebe, has favoured Arep in anyway, Ramaphosa should have been aware that perceptions of a conflict of interest were not going to be avoidable.

It was not enough for the president to be satisfied that Radebe's wife and Motsepe's sister, Bridgett Radebe, was not involved in the energy sector - but only in mining. He should have foreseen that the concept of family in this case extended far beyond the traditional family unit and included distant relatives.

Had he taken that into consideration, he would not have appointed Radebe to the portfolio and would have given him a responsibility that would not lead to such claims.

We do not know if Radebe intends returning to government after the elections, but if he does and Ramaphosa is still president, it would be best to keep him away from this portfolio.

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