South Africa’s former mineral resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has accused Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe and chairman Ben Ngubane of helping the Gupta family “hijack” a coal mine.
The explosive allegations were revealed on Tuesday by the amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism and published by Eyewitness News.
The allegations surface a day after Molefe resumed his job as CEO of the electricity utility after a dispute over his multi-million rand “golden handshake”.
Ramatlhodi told amaBhungane that he was pressured to effectively blackmail Glencore‚ owner of the Optimum coal mine which supplied coal to Eskom’s Hendrina power station.
Optimum was placed under business rescue after Molefe reportedly refused to renegotiate a coal supply contract and imposed a R2 billion penalty against the company.
South Africa was experiencing load-shedding at the time. Ramatlhodi said he resisted pressure to suspend the company’s mining licences and was soon afterwards removed as minister and replaced by Mosebenzi Zwane.
Eskom board spokesman Khulani Qoma denied the allegations‚ saying they were “devoid of logic‚ and all fair-minded citizens will find it impossible to believe it.”
Molefe did not respond to questions about the claims or the fact that the State of Capture report by former public protector Thuli Madonsela put him‚ at the time‚ in regular contact with the Gupta family.
Molefe received a rousing welcome from employees as he reported for work on Monday.
The Democratic Alliance has filed an urgent application with the North Gauteng High Court in a bid to stop Molefe from resuming his role as CEO.
The ANC has also spoken out against Molefe’s return to Eskom. Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown was asked by the party to overturn the decision to reappoint him and dissolve the board.