Minister Gordhan passes the accountability torch

Issued by Benedicta van Minnen MP – DA Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts
17 May 2023 in News

During today’s briefing by Minister Pravin Gordhan’s to the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA), a disturbing narrative has resurfaced, characterised by evasion and the continued marginalisation of André de Ruyter, the former CEO of Eskom. It clouds critical issues and perpetuates a culture of impunity. These practices threaten to undermine South Africa’s economic stability and, if left unchecked, will continue to burden taxpayers with the cost of propping up moribund state-owned entities.

Reflecting on Gordhan’s assertion directed at de Ruyter – “if you are in charge, you are in charge, the buck stops with you” – it appears that the Minister himself is losing sight of this principle. This departure is particularly concerning, given his role as the primary stakeholder in Eskom. This obfuscation on matters of grave public concern not only contradicts his ethos but also undermines the governance of critical state-owned enterprises.

Amidst the ongoing load-shedding crisis it is bewildering to observe the persistent evasiveness among key role-players. The acting CEO of Eskom, Calib Cassim, is presently in China, leaving a great leadership void during this crucial period, while the Government and the Eskom board, among others, appear more invested in sidestepping accountability than addressing the crisis. This behaviour, coupled with the seeming disinterest of investigative authorities including the SAPS, Hawks, and SIU in probing allegations, impedes progress and aggravates the financial strain on taxpayers.

This culture of evasion is reinforced by the undeniable link between the systemic corruption within the ANC and structural corruption within Eskom. Gordhan’s attempts to obfuscate responsibility by painting a picture of a “good ANC” and “bad ANC” only serve to deflect attention from the core issues. His admission of an insufficient separation between party and state, coupled with his inability to deny links between the ANC’s investment arm, Chancellor House, and corruption at Eskom, underline the severity of this problem. The implications of these revelations are far-reaching, threatening the integrity of our public institutions, ultimately at the taxpayer’s expense.

Over the years, government has injected a staggering R331 billion into SOEs, with Eskom accounting for R181.55 billion. This misallocation of public funds, driven by a lack of oversight and accountability, reflects our current leadership’s disregard for fiscal responsibility.

As we approach the 2024 elections, we, the South African taxpayers, hold a powerful tool to halt this cycle of corruption and incompetence: our vote. By voting for the Democratic Alliance, we can elect a government that values transparency, accountability, and the welfare of its citizens over political self-interest.