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Ngubane: Ramatlhodi's claims preposterous

The power utility board chairman Ben Ngubane has responded to the allegations levelled against him and CEO Brian Molefe.

FILE: Eskom board chairperson Ben Ngubane. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Eskom board chairman Ben Ngubane has responded to the allegations levelled against him and CEO Brian Molefe regarding the sale of the Optimum mine, saying they are preposterous.

Former Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi claims Molefe and Ngubane tried to push him to blackmail resources giant Glenore to ensure a Gupta company could take control of the mine.

After amaBhungane in conjunction with Eyewitness News revealed that Ngubane may have had a hand in the Gupta family buying the Optimum mine, an Eskom coal supplier, all eyes were on the African Utility Week conference where the Eskom boss was meant to speak.

But the Eskom CEO was a no-show, after the damning new allegations against him.

Ngubane was speaking on the sidelines of the conference in Cape Town on Tuesday.

Ngubane says the claims are false.

“We can’t instruct a minister on what to do. We take our problems to ministers and ask for help. Now for a minister to claim that we made him take a decision on something is preposterous.”

Ngubane also apologised on Molefe’s behalf at the conference, saying he had other urgent business to attend to. It’s unclear what this was.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown also failed to meet her engagement, sending her deputy Ben Martins instead.

RAMATLHODI’S CLAIMS ARE IMPOSSIBLE AND LUDICROUS

The Eskom chairperson says claims by Ramatlhodi that he and Molefe tried to strong arm him into revoking Glencore's mining licence at optimum mine, are impossible and ludicrous.

He says Eskom could simply not agree to the increased asking price for coal because it would have amounted to irregular expenditure.

Ngubane says it's only natural for the board and the Eskom chief executive to take issues that can't be resolved through negotiations, to the responsible minister.

This, he says was the case in 2015, when agreement could not be reached with Glencore over the increased price of coal.

“He’s saying something that is impossible, we can’t instruct a minister on what to do.”

Ngubane has defended Molefe's negotiations' with mining houses, saying it’s part of the job.

“I was surpised when people asked why he was speaking to Tegeta, he had to and indeed we didn’t have load shedding that winter.”

Ngubane said Molefe was called to Parliament and thus could not attend the conference.

Read the full investigative report by amaBhungane here.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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