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Molefe: Zuma a nice old man, Gordhan right for job

Aug 31 2016 13:52
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Eskom CEO Brian Molefe praised Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan as "the right man for the job" and said President Jacob Zuma is a “very nice old man”.

“He [Gordhan] is a man with immense integrity and is the right man for the job he is doing,” Molefe said on Wednesday, adding he holds Gordhan in very high regard. “That’s why we take requests from Treasury very seriously.”  

Asked whether he knows Zuma, Molefe said yes. “He is a very nice old man. He tells jokes and has a very interesting perspective on life," responded Molefe.

“President Zuma is a very nice person. We always talk about cattle and rural things. He told me: ‘Why in rural areas do they use the dung of a cow to beautify a home, but they can never use the dung of a human being?’.”

Explaining his jest, Molefe said seriously that he was “not brought up with a built-in desire to hate people”.

“Even when I don’t agree with people, I don’t hate them,” he said. “I find it difficult to involve myself in the hatred that follows.”

Democratic Alliance (DA) MP David Maynier was not impressed, accusing Molefe of not answering a question on a Tegeta report.

READ: Eskom gives in to Treasury on coal report

No Gupta links

Earlier, Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane and Molefe categorically stated that they have no relationship with the Gupta family.

During an Eskom address to the Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises on Wednesday, DA MP Natasha Mazzone said Eskom’s leaders needed to address the “elephant in the room: the Guptas”.

“It is fitting to ask the chairperson and the CEO whether they have a close relationship with the Gupta family, whether they meet with the Gupta family, or whether they ever met with the Guptas before their appointments,” she asked.

“I had nothing to do with the Guptas,” said Ngubane. “I have served this country with distinction. I reject with total contempt the impunity on my honour and integrity.”

READ: Eskom denies wasting R134m on 'useless' coal

Pointing to his level of distinction, Ngubane said he was even given the Grand Cordon of the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun when he served as ambassador in Japan in 2004.

Molefe said it is unfair to link him to the Guptas and said the link stems from an interview where 702’s John Robbie asked him if he had ever met them - to which he answered “yes”.

“I know them,” he said on Wednesday. “I have met them and actually, when I look at them, I don’t think there is anything wrong with them. That does not mean I am captured.”

He said it sounds like South Africans would prefer it if he said: “I have never met them and I hate them and, in fact, tomorrow I am going to disconnect them from the grid. Then everyone will love me. My job is not like that.”

“There are people who claim to be very close to me who I can hardly remember,” Molefe continued. “Just because I have shook their hands and had conversations with them doesn’t make me corrupt. We need more substance to prove I am captured or corrupt,” he said.

Eskom has often defended its coal contract with Gupta-owned Tegeta Resources, after it was forced to send Treasury a report into coal contracts on Tuesday.

Molefe said they were only complying with Treasury’s request that their report is authorised by its board. The board only meets on September 21.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown requested the documents be sent without this authorisation after Treasury said Eskom has failed to honour its undertaking to submit comments to Treasury’s review of Eskom's coal contracts.

ALSO READ: Eskom paid Guptas’ Tegeta in advance for coal supplies

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