South African minister denies extensive ANC corruption at energy company, ‘naughty’ admits little

South African minister denies extensive ANC corruption at energy company, 'naughty' admits little


JOHANNESBURG (AP) — A senior South African minister denied Wednesday that there was extensive corruption within the ruling African Nations Congress party related to the country’s financially crippled energy company, though he did admit that “a few” could be concerned with “naughty activities”. .”

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan answered questions from legislators in parliament during a hearing on the graft at the state-owned national electricity supplier that helped confront Africa’s most developed country a power crisis and daily blackouts. It has raised fears that the electricity supply could collapse.

“You can’t put everything on the shoulders of the ANC,” Gordhan said in reference to what is accepted as rampant corruption and mismanagement at national power company Eskom. “There are very honest, committed activists within the ANC who want the public interest to come first and who want this country to work, and there may be a few who have engaged in, shall we call it, mischievous activities. “

Gordhan, who served as South Africa’s finance minister from 2015 to 2017, appeared before a multi-party oversight committee after serious allegations made by former Eskom chief executive Andre de Ruyter, who said in a television interview in February that the ANC and senior politicians were involved in the corruption.

The ANC said it would sue de Ruyter for libel and has demanded he withdraw the claims.

DeRuyter did not mention the politicians reportedly involved when questioned by lawmakers on the matter last month, and Gordhan said on Wednesday he did not know whom de Ruyter was referring to. Gordhan said that while widespread allegations of corruption at Eskom were not unfounded, some of de Ruyter’s allegations were simply used to downplay his own shortcomings in his work.

Eskom is more than $20 billion in debt and has been forced to cut off electricity to South African businesses and its 60 million people, sometimes for as long as 12 hours a day. It became the focal point of criticism of the ANC, who has faced allegations of involvement in corruption for years, especially in state-owned companies such as Eskom.

The ANC is the party of the late Nelson Mandela and the only party to govern South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994, although its popularity has steadily declined and national elections are being held next year, which could put its absolute majority in jeopardy .

While accepting links to the ANC amid the Eskom bribery, Gordhan said there were also a number of private South African and multinational companies “stealing from Eskom, to put it in plain and simple terms.” say.”

“Eskom is not just a feeding trough for the ANC, as the former CEO claims,” ​​Gordhan said.

Gordhan’s appearance in parliament came a day after Eskom sought to allay fears of a total collapse of the country’s electricity supply, as concerns grow over the rolling blackouts, which have become longer and more regular, causing the South Africa’s already struggling economy is further damaged.

Eskom said in a statement Monday that it had taken steps to avoid a total national blackout amid fears that if South Africa’s power grid goes down it could take days or weeks for supplies to return, causing the stock exchange, banks and other critical institutions.

But energy analyst Chris Yelland said there was a “low probability” that the national power grid would collapse completely.

“Eskom has detailed plans on how to prevent a national blackout and how to recover from a national blackout,” Yelland said. “Plans that are regularly tested. Carefully.”

According to various government estimates, the cost of the blackout to the country’s economy is about $52 million per day. The South African Reserve Bank has revised its economic growth forecast for 2023 from 1.1% to 0.3% due to the power outages.


More AP Africa news: