Satawu, Black Business Council back Brian Molefe, critics want him to go

The former Eskom CEO attended his first sitting in Parliament on Thursday after being sworn in as an MP.

FILE: Eskom CEO Brian Molefe gestures during a press conference in Johannesburg on 3 November 2016. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN/JOHANNESBURG - The South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) and Black Business Council (BBC) have welcomed Brian Molefe's appointment as a Member of Parliament (MP), saying they believe in the former Eskom CEO and have confidence in his capabilities.

Molefe attended his first sitting in Parliament on Thursday after being sworn in.

While ruling party MPs welcomed him with cheers, the reception from opposition benches was frosty, with some calling him corrupt, immoral and a Gupta deployee.

Molefe has been a staunch supporter of the Gupta family. His links to them were questioned in the Public Protector's State of Capture report, with the probe noting he could often be placed in Saxonwold - where the Guptas live - during his tenure as Eskom boss. A business deal between the utility and a Gupta-owned company, Tegeta, has been widely criticised, with many people questioning its validity and legality.

Satawu general secretary Zenzo Mahlangu says Parliament "needs people of his calibre, people who really understand what’s going on in this country.”

BBC general secretary George Sebulela says Molefe’s record speaks for itself.

“A black person of that calibre with a lot of experience ... I think it’s in the interests of South Africans.”

But Save SA’s Lawson Naidoo says Molefe’s implicated in the State of Capture report and shouldn’t be in Parliament.

“Brian Molefe’s appointment to Parliament is living proof that the Zuma administration does not punish corrupt conduct. They reward it.”

Save SA is mobilising South Africans to protest against Molefe's appointment.

Satawu and the business body believes Molefe can make a huge contribution to the country, but Save SA says his appointment must be rejected.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has only noted Molefe’s appointment as an MP.

[WATCH] From the archives: Brian Molefe on Eskom, the Guptas & the state of SA

FINANCE MINISTER CLAIMS

Meanwhile, the African National Congress (ANC) in Parliament has denied claims that Molefe is being primed to replace Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan.

It's understood Molefe will begin discussions with ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu about his role in Parliament.

The party has rejected suggestions Molefe will be assigned to the finance committee.

Acting caucus spokesperson Nonceba Mhlauli says no such decision has been taken.

“The ANC will apply its mind with the comrade on his expertise and deploy him to a relevant committee of Parliament.”

The Democratic Alliance, Congress of the People and Economic Freedom Fighters have rejected Molefe's appointment, calling it bad news for Treasury and the country.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)