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Eskom raises concerns over the timing of blackmail claims

Eskom says it makes no sense that a mere chairman and group chief executive could exert pressure on a sitting minister.

Ben Ngubane. Picture: Supplied.

JOHANNESBURG – Eskom is questioning why former Mining Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi has come forward with information about the optimum coal mine deal now - almost two years later.

In an AmaBhungane exclusive on EWN, Ramatlhodi has revealed that Eskom CEO Brian Molefe and chair Ben Ngubane asked him to suspend Glencore's mining licences to ensure the Gupta company could take control of the optimum coal mine.

Molefe, who resigned as the utility's CEO last year following claims around his connection to the Guptas in the Public Protector's State of Capture report has now been reinstated as CEO.

Eskom says it makes no sense that a mere chairman and group chief executive could exert pressure on a sitting minister.

The former mineral resources minister says Molefe and Ngubane insisted that he suspend Glencore's mining licenses in South Africa.

He says he didn't know at the time that the Gupta company was keen on buying Optimum Mine.

A few weeks after Ramatlhodi refused, he was removed and replaced by Mosebenzi Zwane, a known Gupta associate.

Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma says it's also unclear why the former minister would raise this issue now.

“Why did he wait this long to say the things he’s saying? We would like to deal with the issues raised in the State of Capture in a process that is credible.”

Speaking on the sidelines of the African utility week in Cape Town on Tuesday, Ngubane dismissed Ramatlhodi's allegations as preposterous.

ESKOM TO DEAL WITH STATE CAPTURE IN ‘CREDIBLE’ MANNER

Eskom says it wants to deal with the issues of state capture in a process that is credible and insists it will deal with the consequences if it emerges that the state utility has been corrupt in any way.

AmaBhungane says the former mining minister’s allegations add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that the Guptas R2 billion buyout of the optimum coal mine should rank among South Africa's most audacious business hijackings.

However, Eskom has rejected Ramatlhodi's allegations saying it makes no sense to suggest that a mere chairman and group chief executive could exert pressure on a sitting minister.

Qoma says they'll deal with allegations of state capture during an inquiry.

“The report outlined remedial action, that process will give us, if it happens, an opportunity to talk about it. If we are corrupt we will accept it and deal with it and take the consequences.”

Read the full investigative report by amaBhungane here.

(Edited by Refilwe Pitjeng)

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