Ramaphosa to answer questions on China loans, land expropriation in Parliament


President Cyril Ramaphosa will have the opportunity to provide more details around a R33.4bn Chinese state-owned bank loan to power utility Eskom on Tuesday afternoon when he answers questions in the National Council of Provinces.

Eskom inked the $2.5bn loan - worth R33.4bn at the time - with the Chinese Development Bank in late July ahead of the 10th Brics Summit in Johannesburg. 

The loan, which has a repayment period of 15 years, will be used for construction of Kusile power station. Transnet concluded a separate R4bn loan with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Both loans are guaranteed by the SA state but their interest rates and the debt requirements have not been disclosed.

In late July Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told Fin24 that while there is "no secrecy about it", the power utility could not disclose the interest being charged on the debt "purely for commercial reasons".

What is the interest rate?

A question Ramaphosa will be asked to answer on Tuesday, from the DA's Cathleen Labuschagne, is what conditions are attached to the Eskom and Transnet loans, and who will be responsible for servicing the interest. 

This comes as DA leader Mmusi Maimane said on Monday that Eskom must explain what "special arrangement" China is making with its loans to state-owned entities. 

Ramaphosa has previously said that, in its dealings with SA, China had not displayed any “imperialist tendencies”, adding "[when] we speak to China we cross the t’s and dot the i’s".

The president will also face a question from the EFF's Tebogo Mokwele, according to the question paper, about whether the state is ready for the introduction of possible retaliatory sanctions as a "consequences of the expropriation of land without compensation".

Mokwele has asked the president to say whether he has "been engaged by the British Prime Minister and the United States Government" on the matter. 

During her recent visit to SA Prime Minister Theresa May said the UK "supported land reform that is legal and transparent and generated through a democratic process".

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