ANC’s Mantashe: We will not privatise Eskom

By Meggan Saville of the SA Press Association

Photo credit: funadium / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA
Photo credit: funadium / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

The ANC is not in favour of privatising the country’s power system, despite problems with parastatal Eskom, secretary general Gwede Mantashe said on Monday.

“Electricity remains a public good and therefore, if you totally privatise it, it will have problems,” Mantashe told reporters at the African National Congress’s headquarters at Luthuli House, in Johannesburg.

“Privatisation of electricity supply is not a panacea,” he said.

Eskom resorted to rolling blackouts at the weekend and declared a power emergency with large industrial customers on Sunday. It has said the country’s power supply is likely to remain “constrained for the foreseeable future”.

Mantashe said the ANC acknowledged there were problems at a number of state-owned companies (SOCs).

“What we are registering is that, as the ANC, we are concerned about what is happening in a number of SOCs.

“We must pay attention to that and try to address the problems that are emerging there.”

He was giving a report back on the ANC’s national executive committee meeting in Irene at the weekend.

Recent “ongoing disruptions and anarchy” in the National Assembly were discussed at the NEC’s conference, and members welcomed Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to resolve this through engagement with opposition parties.

There have been chaotic scenes in the National Assembly recently with opposition parties calling for Speaker Baleka Mbete to step down over allegations of bias, and for President Jacob Zuma to answer questions about the R246 million in security upgrades to his homestead at Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal.

Ramaphosa last week brokered a short-lived truce under which disciplinary proceedings against the Economic Freedom Fighters for heckling Zuma about Nkandla in August would be held in abeyance in return for assurances that they would respect parliamentary rules.

A report by the powers and privileges committee was to have been tabled with the likely result that various EFF MPs, including leader Julius Malema, would be suspended from Parliament for up to 30 days for contempt of Parliament.

Regarding Ramaphosa’s meeting with opposition parties on Monday afternoon, Mantashe said this report should not be discussed in that forum.

“The report is of a committee of Parliament, it is not an issue for discussion elsewhere.”

He could not confirm whether the ANC’s internal integrity committee was looking into the Nkandla matter.

“Not as far as we know. They don’t report to us…. They never reported to us they are working on Nkandla,” he said.

The integrity committee maintained its independence and came to the party with recommendations only once it had completed its report on a particular issue.

The NEC had agreed that the ANC task team should continue its efforts to bring unity within alliance partner the Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu).

The party would also urge its alliance partners to help restore cohesion in the union federation.

The National Union of Metalworkers of SA (Numsa), a Vavi ally and Cosatu’s biggest affiliate, was expelled from Cosatu earlier this month.

“A divided Cosatu is not good for society,” Mantashe said.

On Monday, Mantashe revealed that the ANC would send three representatives to Zimbabwe for a conference of its “sister organisation” the ruling Zanu-PF, in early December.

Mantashe also told reporters that former MP Pallo Jordan, who recently resigned from Parliament and the NEC, had offered to resign from the party in the wake of revelations that he had lied about his PhD qualification. However, the party had rejected this.

Mantashe would not comment on speculation ahead of the ANC Youth League’s congress, to be held this week, about nominations for leadership positions.

He would also not comment on allegations regarding former ANC Youth League treasurer Pule Mabe, who is involved in a case in the Pretoria Specialised Commercial Crime Court related to the alleged defrauding of the SA Social Security Agency.

According to a September report based on a leaked preliminary report of the ANC integrity committee, NEC member Mabe was the subject of an investigation.

Mantashe said he did not “want to get into details of Mabe’s case” and said the integrity committee’s work was not a disciplinary process, but rather to issue advice and recommendations. – SAPA