'Politricking with Tshidi Madia': Gordhan puts De Ruyter on pedestal - Mokonyane

In an exclusive interview with Tshidi Madia, ANC NEC member Nomvula Mokonyane lays into the public enterprises minister for his treatment of the country's power emergency.

Nomvula Mokonyane at Gavin Watson’s memorial service in Roodepoort, west of Johannesburg. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Controversial African National Congress national executive committee (ANC NEC) member Nomvula Mokonyane has accused Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan of turning the Eskom boss into an untouchable individual, while the minister remains unaccountable for the electricity emergency in the country.

Mokonyane said Gordhan turned Eskom chief executive officer (CEO) Andre De Ruyter into an “alpha and omega” on the crisis, which has seen South Africans go for continuous hours in a day without electricity.

She made the comments to Eyewitness News a few days after Gordhan delivered a report on the current electricity crisis in the country to the ANC NEC.

“Comrade Pravin, I hope out of [the NEC meeting] interactions, will appreciate that he has to be part of a collective, a collective that seeks to contribute towards solutions for this country,” said Mokonyane of the public enterprises minister.

In an exclusive sit-down interview with Eyewitness News’ podcast Politricking with Tshidi Madia, Mokonyane, a controversial former minister herself, raised concerns over the creation of a be-all and end-all on matters plaguing Eskom.

She argued that Gordhan fashioned De Ruyter into a sort of super expert on Eskom, taking a back seat and not communicating with the governing party and the public as outages increased.

“Over the past few days we have not seen any other person, frequently we have seen the CEO and not even the Minister Pravin Gordhan, which I think is his own creation and must stop,” said Mokonyane.

During the discussion, Mokonyane suggested Gordhan failed to account to the ANC and has been allowed to carry on as “a law unto himself” because its subcommittees are dysfunctional and too focused on internal squabbles within the party.

Mokonyane’s views are consistent with reports from the media, including Eyewitness News, that Gordhan was wrapped over the knuckles by his peers in the NEC meeting. The NEC is the ANC’s highest decision-making body in between conferences. Apparently Gordhan came under fire for failing to take the party into confidence on what was at play at Eskom.

He is said to have blamed corruption, state capture and sabotage for Eskom’s woes.

Mokonyane said: “The problem is about the alleged incidents of sabotage. We must see people being arrested if there’s been… I mean, for years we’ve been told about sabotage. Let's see people being arrested if there's really sabotage”.

Eskom has been a national headache since at least 2008, with promises by government, including the current administration and its president, Cyril Ramaphosa, to resolve the power crisis.

South Africans have been subjected to numerous outages a day, with the electricity provider recently taking an unprecedented decision to place the country on stage six load shedding, resulting in at least three planned power cuts a day. Mokonyane says South Africa and its townships deserve more clarity about what is going on at Eskom.

Gordhan told the country that there was no need to call for a state of emergency, blaming a wildcat strike at Eskom for the outages. A wage agreement between Eskom and the unions was signed on Tuesday afternoon.

ANC VS ESKOM

“The invisible Eskom leadership has costed the ANC the last elections. In many of our townships, especially here in Mogale City, the ANC was contesting against Eskom as the main opposition,” Mokonyane says as a matter of fact. She complained about the impact of power cuts on the electorate, making an example of their president, Ramaphosa, pleading with voters and urging Eskom to resolve the electricity challenges in Mogale city, “but nothing happened”.

“President had to plead with voters on the eve of elections and Eskom never responded… Someone from the highest office in the land and nothing happens? The invisible Eskom leadership has cost the ANC at the polls,” she reiterated her earlier views about Eskom.

The ANC in the wake of a bout of power outages failed to make up lost ground at the 2021 local government polls, instead losing control of more municipalities across the country, including all of Gauteng’s metros. Mokonyane herself lives in a Democratic Alliance-run city.

She listed several issues as the core troubles with the regulator, including skills shortage, which included the base load, skills capacity, the distribution mechanism of energy supply, the approach to alternative solutions and the role of citizens, who have to come to the party on paying for services rendered by Eskom.

Sparing no one in her criticism, Mokonyane asked about the role of Ramaphosa’s much punted “district development model”, which is meant to see a collaboration in the planning and implementation of programmes throughout different spheres of government.

She also complained of the DA's setting aside plans by three late Johannesburg mayors; Geoff Makhubo, Jolidee Matongo and Mpho Moerane; to get the country’s economic hub off the Eskom grid. The DA is running the city through a multiparty coalition as it explores its own ways to power Joburg.

“Why is it not coming in? You don't have to say that because today we've got the DA, we can't continue with this. South Africans remain South Africans, whether they're led by the DA or they're led by somebody else, they deserve this service,” said Mokonyane.