The current South African administration has been marred by allegations of rampant corruption and the latest Eskom saga involving two of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s Cabinet members proves this isn’t going away anytime soon. The president has decided that he doesn’t want to know which of his two Cabinet members have allegedly looted Eskom, the national power utility company. Instead, Ramaphosa has said that former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter, who made the allegations of corruption, should have reported any corrupt activity to the relevant law enforcement authorities. This leaves many wondering whether Ramaphosa is abdicating his responsibility.
Here’s what we know so far:
The Allegations of Domestic Terrorism
A candid conversation between former Eskom CEO André de Ruyter and e.tv’s Annika Larsen shed light on many issues surrounding Eskom’s corruption. During the interview, de Ruyter alleged that two of Ramaphosa’s Cabinet members were implicated in Eskom’s rampant looting. Furthermore, he opened up about an attempt on his life in December 2022 due to his exposes about corruption levels at Eskom. According to de Ruyter, the cabinet members directed cartels to wreak havoc as they raided Eskom’s coffers unabated.
Ramaphosa has said he has no need to be briefed on the matter of the two alleged looting Cabinet members. He cited the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act (PRECCA), which states that anyone in a position of power should report any corrupt activity to relevant law enforcement officials. Once this is done, the relevant authorities should take whatever action they deem necessary. Despite his explanation, some political parties are accusing Ramaphosa of not tackling Eskom corruption within his own Cabinet members. The DA released a statement saying that with the allegations made, South Africans expected their president to take the matter seriously and immediately suspend any Cabinet ministers that are facing such allegations.
The President’s Stance
In a parliamentary Q&A session, Ramaphosa revealed that he was not briefed about the identities of those allegedly involved in cartels in Eskom. However, several law enforcement agencies have launched investigations relating to Eskom. Eskom has also cancelled coal supply agreements and construction contracts valued roughly at R11bn and engaged in litigation worth R3.7bn related to certain coal supply agreements that were declared invalid. Ramaphosa assures the public that various measures have been taken by the Department of Public Enterprises and reported to the Parliament regarding the implementation of the recommendations of the State Capture Commission to uncover corruption at Eskom.
The allegations against the Cabinet members that are accused of looting Eskom have put President Ramaphosa in a tough position. While he might be implementing measures to uncover corruption, he needs to do more to convince South Africans that he is serious about the matter. Eskom’s corruption is having a ripple effect on the country’s economic stability and growth. The fact that allegations of domestic terrorism against a highly respected former CEO of Eskom exist is also worrying. In the end, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) may be South Africa’s last hope regarding accountability in bringing Eskom’s corruption to an end, given the centralisation of many national functions into the Presidency.