IFP chair sympathises with Ngubane after resignation

2017-06-14 13:45
Eskom Board Chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane, who stepped down on Monday, was described as a “father figure”.

Eskom Board Chairperson Dr Ben Ngubane, who stepped down on Monday, was described as a “father figure”. (Lindile Mbontsi)

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Ben Ngubane, who has just stepped down from his position as Eskom board chairperson under a cloud, on Tuesday found sympathy from an unlikely source — the IFP, which he dumped a few years ago for the party’s fiercest rival, the ANC.

IFP national chairperson Blessed Gwala, who described Ngubane as a father figure, said he was battling to link the former IFP KZN premier to the things he is being accused of, including turning a blind eye to alleged shady dealings between the power utility and Gupta-owned companies.

“Politics aside, I must make it clear that I hold him in high regard and he is not the kind of a person that I expect to be engaged in the kind of things that he is being accused of.

“He literally brought me up, he is a father figure to me. At a personal level, I must admit it is painful to see him go through what he is currently going through, particularly given that he is the one who instilled in me values and principles of good governance,” Gwala said.

Late on Monday night, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown announced the resignation of Ngubane.

Alongside former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe, Ngubane was in May accused by former Mineral Resources minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi of trying to strong-arm the former minister to withdraw Glencore’s Optimum mining licences in order to guarantee that the Guptas took over Glencore’s coal mines.

Ngubane is also under attack for his handling of Molefe’s controversial retirement that would have seen the power utility’s CEO receive a R30 million golden handshake, a deal which Brown blocked.

A former northern KZN district surgeon, Ngubane held multiple positions in the post-apartheid government including that of Arts and Culture minister.

He quit as KZN premier in 1999 following what was described by IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi at the time as “IFP internal differences”.

IFP MP Narend Singh, who served in Ngubane’s provincial cabinet where he was Agriculture MEC, said while the former Eskom board chairperson had proven to be a leader with integrity during his tenure as premier, the party cannot defend him on the Eskom allegations as “people change”.

“He is no longer a member of the IFP and as such it will be difficult for us to say whether he is still the same person,” he said.

The IFP has asked Parliament Speaker Baleka Mbete to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate alleged irregularities at Eskom.

“What is important at this stage is for the former Eskom chairperson to assist the committee, even if he is no longer chairperson,” Singh said.

The ANC said Ngubane’s resignation did not mean he can no longer be held accountable for what went wrong during his tenure at the power utility.

“If there is any wrongdoing from him or any person, whether they resign or not, they must take responsibility. Allegations of corruption and looting are quite serious,” ANC national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

Kodwa said it was crucial for Eskom to come clean on allegations that the power utility has been “captured”.

“We need good corporate governance. The utility must clean itself of corruption allegations because people are saying that our utility has been captured,” he said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg

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