Ahead of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s budget speech tomorrow rumours are rife that former Transnet and Eskom executive Brian Molefe is set to take his place or at least become his deputy.
Last week parliament announced Molefe was to be sworn in as a member of parliament. It would then be feasible for Molefe to become a Cabinet minister.
Former public protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report, released at the end of last year, revealed damning links between then Eskom chief executive officer Molefe and the controversial Gupta family.
However, Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said it was more likely that Molefe would be appointed as deputy minister of finance as this would provide an opportunity for him to take the helm of the Public Investment Corporation (PIC). The PIC is a quasi-public investment entity with R1.8 trillion in assets.
“That would be a little like appointing an arsonist to put out a fire,” Maynier added.
Freedom Front Plus MP Anton Alberts echoed these sentiments, saying that if Molefe was appointed as deputy minister of finance and PIC chairperson he would influence where its capital is invested. “Once again the wolf [fox] will be put in charge of the henhouse,” he said.
“Given Molefe’s background in the Transnet pension saga, his comments made about pensioners and his Gupta ties, as pointed out in the public protector’s [State of Capture] report, the FF Plus strongly objects to his presence in parliament as an MP.”
DA chief whip John Steenhuisen said Molefe’s nomination only confirmed for the umpteenth time that the ANC did not care about fighting corruption. The DA has laid criminal charges against Molefe following the former public protector’s report.
The report found that frequent interactions between Molefe, the Guptas, and their associates coincided with the acquisition of the Optimum coal mine by the Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources.
Part of the controversy about the deal revolves around a pre-payment of more than R600 million that Eskom had approved for coal it would get from Tegeta. This money ostensibly helped the Guptas finance the Optimum deal.