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Ramaphosa: War room never got close to financial machinations at Eskom

President Ramaphosa says that the war room got to understand how the grid operates and Eskom’s problems with aging power stations, maintenance backlogs and cost overruns. But state capture, looting and corruption never reared their heads.

President Cyril Ramaphosa delivers the State of the Nation Address on 7 February 2019. Picture: Twitter/parliamentofrsa

CAPE TOWN - President Cyril Ramaphosa has lifted the lid on the war room he was asked to head by his predecessor Jacob Zuma in a bid to keep the lights on and why it didn’t work.

Ramaphosa was put in charge in 2014, but later asked Zuma to shut the initiative down, saying that he couldn’t take effective decisions because too many people were able to put forward their own ideas on what needed to be done.

During question time in the National Assembly on Thursday, Ramaphosa was asked by Freedom Front Plus leader Pieter Groenewald what he’d done in the war room to prevent consumers having to foot the bill for Eskom’s scandals.

Ramaphosa says that the war room got to understand how the grid operates and Eskom’s problems with aging power stations, maintenance backlogs and cost overruns. But state capture, looting and corruption never reared their heads.

"What the war room never really got close to was the financial machinations that were happening at a corporate level – we were looking more closely at keeping the lights on."

Ramaphosa later asked Zuma to shut the war room down.

"I had been appointed to head the war room, but at the same time, I realised - and I told him [Zuma] - I am not able to wrap my arms around Eskom properly, to take effective decisions, because at every point, there was another entry of another idea, of other people…"

Ramaphosa told Zuma that Eskom needed a CEO, answerable to him (Zuma) and the board. Load shedding stopped soon after Brian Molefe was appointed but Ramaphosa says that Eskom’s deep-seated issues weren’t properly dealt with.

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