New electricity minister’s past raises concerns of corruption

The business group Sakeliga has warned the public to be cautious of Kgosientso Ramokgopa, the new electricity minister in South Africa’s cabinet reshuffle, due to his involvement in a multi-billion rand tender scandal during his time as Tshwane mayor. Ramokgopa was embroiled in controversy over a tender awarded to PEU Capital Partners, which led to a legal challenge and a termination agreement that cost taxpayers millions. Additionally, the Tshwane mayoral residence underwent a controversial R12 million makeover during his tenure. Ramokgopa has since admitted to corruption under the ANC’s rule. Sakeliga has called for vigilance in watching the minister’s activities.

South Africa’s new electricity minister’s skeletons

By William Brederode

Sakeliga has warned the public to watch the activities of the new electricity minister, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, with “great caution” owing to his involvement in a huge tender scandal that cost the taxpayers billions of rands during his tenure as Tshwane mayor.

Ramokgopa was mayor of Tshwane from 2010 to 2016 and left after the ANC lost power in the city following the 2016 South African municipal elections.

After a brief stint in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, he was appointed to the presidency as the head of the office of investment and infrastructure.

Read more: SA’s energy crisis could worsen, new electricity minister warns

He remained in this position until he was appointed electricity minister in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s latest cabinet reshuffle.

Ramokgopa was embroiled in a controversy about a multi-billion rand tender awarded to a company called PEU Capital Partners.

Given what followed, it is ironic that PEU was initially appointed to give advice to Tshwane on how to save money, according to a 2017 statement from then-Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga.

PEU soon turned from advisor to service provider as they were contracted to install smart meters in the city.

Irregularities in the deal meant that a legal challenge to the tender loomed. With that threat, Tshwane entered into a termination agreement with PEU, offering to pay its subsidiary R950 million.

That deal was set aside by the North Gauteng High Court, which declared in a judgment that all deals between Tshwane and PEU or their subsidiary were unlawful.

Sakeliga said this was a deal that the city entered into at Ramokgopa’s insistence, despite warnings from opposition parties and his political bosses.

That money was returned to the city.

However, Sakeliga said R630 million was still paid to PEU for “services rendered”. This is a bill that Tshwane is still grappling with.

“Ramokgopa left office as mayor amid an additional R2-billion debt burden on the municipality due to an illegal agreement for the installation and maintenance of electricity meters that he had signed off on,” Sakeliga said.

Read more: From the FT: Ramaphosa’s new electricity minister gets muted applause

Mayoral mansion renovations

Under Ramokgopa’s leadership, the Tswane mayoral residence, a property worth R5 million during Ramokgopa’s tenure, received a R12 million makeover, reported the Citizen.

The DA-led administration launched a probe into the renovations as they claimed that the work done to the mansion did not justify the amount paid for the services rendered.

Former Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga said the R12 million was misused on dodgy renovations by the previous ANC administration.

The renovations included improvements to the walls, paving, swimming pool, and an automated irrigation and gate system.

Tshwane tabled a motion to approve the sale of the mayoral mansion, also dubbed the “house of corruption”.

In November 2017, the city announced that it had sold the Tshwane mayor’s official residence for R5.1-million.

Read more: Can the new Minister of Electricity fix South Africa’s power crisis? – Katzenellenbogen

In a 2019 panel discussion, Ramokgopa said that “it will be the height of folly to deny that corruption did thrive under our watch [as the ANC], so that is the first admission”.

He admitted that the ANC stole from the country’s people and wronged them.

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This article was first published by Daily Investor and is republished with permission.