SA needs to know who is breaking and looting Eskom – John Steenhuisen

DA leader says power utility will never be fixed until we know who is behind its collapse

South Africa needs to know who is breaking and looting Eskom, even if the ANC is Accused Number 1

16 March 2023

Note to Editors: The following Mini Plenary Debate Speech on Eskom was delivered by the DA Federal Leader John Steenhuisen during a virtual sitting of Parliament today.

South Africa has been plunged into darkness and despair.

As Eskom collapses under the weight of organised corruption, our economy is being starved of the electricity it needs to operate.

As the economy collapses, so do the lives and livelihoods of sixty million South Africans.

Fellow Members of Parliament, we are gathered here today because the DA brought a motion to establish an ad hoc committee to investigate allegations of systematic sabotage and looting at Eskom.

As the elected representatives of the people of South Africa, our role today is to debate the need for this thorough inquiry into organised corruption at Eskom, and then to vote on it.

The fact is, Eskom will never be fixed until we know who and what is breaking it.

The fact is, only a parliamentary inquiry can give a proper platform and protection to those innocent people who know what is happening at Eskom and who have been threatened and subdued into silence by the connected syndicates that extend right into the upper reaches of government.

Those with information must not be assassinated like Babita Deokaran or poisoned like Andre de Ruyter. They need the full protection of a parliamentary inquiry if we are to know the truth.

And given De Ruyter’s poisoning, there is clearly a determined effort to stop the truth from coming out.

Make no mistake. The allegations are serious.

They are made in intelligence reports containing detailed information gathered by private investigators.

The reports tell us that four criminal cartels are operating inside Eskom, plundering its resources, bleeding it dry, and bringing the country to its knees.

These four criminal groups steal billions of rands by controlling Eskom’s procurement processes. All the people in the buying and selling process are either part of the criminal cartel, or they are bribed.

These cartels break Eskom infrastructure on purpose so that they can profit from all the work and parts needed to fix them again.

This is why Eskom pays R238 000 for a wooden-handled mop. R80 000 each for knee guards worth R320 each. R58 for a roll of toilet paper. R56 for a bottle of milk.

But that’s small change compared to how much Eskom is overpaying for coal.

Let’s be clear. The only objective of these four criminal cartels is to transfer vast amounts of public money – money meant to sustain our energy supply - to a small number of people, to make them extraordinarily rich.

We shouldn’t even need to debate this. Obviously South Africa needs this inquiry, and we need it urgently.

Because we cannot fix Eskom until we know who is breaking it.

It should be an easy decision for us today. We are the elected representatives of the people of South Africa.

Each of us swore an oath to uphold the Constitution, which says Parliament’s role is to watch over the government and make sure the country is being run for the benefit of the people of South Africa.

Each of us swore an oath to act in South Africa’s best interest. To put South Africa first.

So yes, it should be an easy decision.

But there is a complication. Because the intelligence reports link two senior members of President Ramaphosa’s cabinet to the four criminal cartels.

The reports suggest it is the ANC that is bleeding Eskom dry. It is the ANC that is profiting off Eskom’s destruction. It is the ANC that is collapsing the economy.

Yes. South Africa’s leaders are also Eskom’s bleeders.

Indeed, the cartels are called the Presidential Cartel, the Mesh-Kings Cartel, the Legendaries Cartel and the Chief Cartel.

The reports reveal that these ANC leaders “pay cash for luxury cars” and “wash their hands in 15-year-old whisky”.

The reports reveal that a senior ANC leader – and I quote:

“Exercises firm control over contracts awarded for several types of departments in Mpumalanga province.

“He controls people high up in the Mpumalanga power stations to approve contracts for his friends and family.

“He also controls senior officials in Mpumalanga, such as police and traffic police chiefs and city councillors.

“Information suggests that contract beneficiaries pay [him] kickbacks in cash for tenders awarded due to his influence. Rumours are that he hides some of his money in JoJo water tanks.

“Should any investigation be initiated in Mpumalanga, an informant will report to [him] and give instructions to certain senior officials to ensure the investigation is stopped.
“The indications are that he controls at least one hit squad operating in Mpumalanga.”

These are serious allegations indeed. They reach to the top and into the heart of government. Yet again, the ANC is Accused No 1.

Parliament has an opportunity today to restore its image in the wake of the devastating findings of the Zondo Commission into its own failings during State Capture. It has a chance to redeem itself from the shame of the Nkandla debacle and it has a chance to return Parliament to its rightful place as the arena of executive accountability.

So, the real question today is: Will the ANC MPs vote to protect South Africa, or will they vote to protect the ANC?

Issued by John Steenhuisen, Leader of the Democratic Alliance, 16 December 2023