25 May 2017

WHY is Brian Molefe so important that he has been allowed to do a gravity defying backflip, provoke a national uproar and roll back into the saddle at Eskom, possibly R30-million richer? Not since President Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla scandal and to a lesser extent the SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng drama has there been such high-level defence of the obviously unacceptable doings of an obviously compromised individual.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has demeaned herself by babbling nonsense about Molefe’s return to Eskom making “financial sense”. While board chair Ben Ngubane has sought to appropriate for Molefe successes he had little to do with. In reality, analysts say, Molefe was lucky the demand for power declined, thereby ending power cuts, while he was  at Eskom. The  financial ratios also improved because government injected funding in 2015. Very few people are likely to have swallowed  the tripe being trotted out in the current  charade. Parliament hasn’t – it has launched its own inquiry, evidently with no faith in the one initiated by Brown. And opposition parties have gone to court to try to have Molefe’s reappointment revoked. The question is why even send him back to Eskom when the uproar was so predictable?

There are two possibilities.
One is to allow Molefe’s R30-million gratuity to go through the books and so afford him retirement in unending luxury. The second is to ensure the acquisition of even more luxury through the process of waving tenders from the country’s biggest state-owned enterprise into specific hands. Select mine owners for instance. Some coal mine owners will be in line for an immediate windfall if the call already made by Ngubane for Eskom to shore up its coal reserves is actioned.

Then there is uranium. In the longer term Zuma’s nuclear programme will put a premium on uranium. President Zuma’s son Duduzane is already  positioned to deliver both. He is the largest single shareholder of the Gupta family’s Optimum coal mine, hijacked two years ago from Glencore with the help of Mineral Resources  Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane. The same Gupta-Zuma combo operating as Tegeta Exploration and Resources also owns South Africa’s only fully dedicated uranium mine – Shiva.
Then, going beyond the mineral aspect, is nuclear build itself. These are prime targets for corruption because of their scale and longevity, says environmental researcher Dr Neil Overy.

Considered megaprojects they are highly costly and highly complex organisationally, with the potential to create thousands of contractual links. They tend to be centrally managed by governments and, by necessity, afford senior public officials discretionary powers over projects, he says.
A further factor is secrecy – often national security laws, such as the  National Key Points Act, are used to restrict public and even parliamentary oversight. Considering Molefe’s track record as set out in the State of Capture report, it is feasible to suggest that Molefe has been redeployed to an environment where his sponsors believe he will thrive.