Inquiry Must Establish Root Cause of Eskom’s Problems: Zuma

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma says the independent commission of inquiry into Eskom should get to the root cause of the problems facing the power utility.

In an exclusive interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Thursday night, the President spoke about Eskom and other current affairs.

Earlier this month, Eskom asked four executives, including Chief Executive Officer Tsediso Matona, to step aside for the duration of the three-month inquiry. The other three executives are Financial Director Tsholofelo Molefe and Group Executives Dan Morokane and Matshela Koko.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been tasked with overseeing the turnaround of Eskom. Government will soon convene a summit to discuss solutions to the current electricity challenges facing the country.

On Thursday, the Presidency said Eskom is receiving full support from the Department of Public Enterprises, the Presidency and government as a whole to improve operations and implement the energy security plan.

The Presidency encouraged all stakeholders to provide the needed support and to focus on assisting Eskom and Public Enterprises to take the country on the route to energy sufficiency.

Police matters

Switching focus to matters within the police service, President Zuma said Police Minister Nathi Nhleko took the decision to suspend Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) head Robert McBride based on reports he received.

The President said there were serious issues stated in the reports which could not be ignored. He said the Minister has not yet given him more information about the situation.

Media reports allege that McBride was suspended because he is also the subject of a criminal investigation. This is over a claim that McBride stole a digital storage device that is believed to contain evidence that could implicate him, the Hawks head Anwa Dramat and Gauteng Hawks head Shadrack Sibiya in unspecified wrongdoing.

President Zuma strongly discouraged the public from politicising every action taken by government or Ministers and to give the investigations space to play out.

The President said Dramat’s suspension was also a result of reports given to the Police Minister and that although the court has ruled in Dramat’s favour regarding his suspension, action had to be taken following facts implicating Dramat in the reports.

The President said should it eventually be found that the Minister erred in suspending Dramat, action will be taken against him.

Salga national assembly

The President this week addressed the South African Local Government Association (Salga) National Members Assembly, where he warned municipalities against practicing nepotism and other forms of corruption when hiring people.

He also discouraged municipalities from using consultants for work that is supposed to be done by officials. He said the consultants should only deal with technical issues that officials cannot deal with.

“The other point I made was that people who have been employed for specific skills must do the job…” the President said.

President Zuma commended Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) Minister Pravin Gordhan for implementing the Back to Basics programme and called on municipalities to support it.

“The Back to Basics approach is an important programme because it says ‘let us do the simple things that will make municipalities operate differently from how they have been doing before’. We need to support [the Minister,” he said.

He said Minister Gordhan criss-crossed the country to identify problems in municipalities and he is in the right position to recommend solutions to the problems.

He also said municipalities have been progressing well in trying to get clean audits from the Auditor General.