Ramaphosa: there can only be conflict of interest if there is proof

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He has no conflict of interest regarding SA's independent power producers (IPPs) programme and those who make such allegations must prove it first, President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Parliament on Thursday.

Ramaphosa responded to a question submitted by Julius Malema of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who wanted to know what the total cost to Eskom is of the independent power producers that signed the latest round of power purchasing agreements (PPAs) with Eskom and whether the cost of the PPAs will "collapse" Eskom if they are not cancelled.

On behalf of Malema, EFF MP Hlengiwe Mkhaliphi asked Ramaphosa whether his family benefitted from IPPs and whether he does not perhaps have a conflict of interest in that regard.

Ramaphosa answered that, when he was elected president of the ANC, he divested himself from his business interests over a period of about three months. He also said that his brother runs his own business.

"There is no conflict of interest. There can only be conflict of interest if you can prove it. Accusations of corruption and conflict of interest are easy to make, but if there is proof, bring the proof," said Ramaphosa.

"Some of us are guided by one principle, that we should never steal money from the people of SA. Let us get the facts before we cast aspersions."

Asked whether he has seen a nuclear contract signed by former president Jacob Zuma, Ramaphosa said allegations of such a contract have been brought to his attention, but he has never seen any such a signed contract on nuclear.

"SA will continue to generate energy from a mix of sources: coal, nuclear (which we already have), hydro, wind, solar and gas. Those are the sources of our energy mix and we are committed to having a healthy energy mix in terms of generation," said Ramaphosa.

Eskom

According to Ramaphosa, IPPs will likely eventually deliver electricity below the cost of running many of Eskom's power stations.

"This means these and future IPPs are likely to contribute to lower electricity prices for consumers and encourage economic growth. Renewable energy IPPs have assisted Eskom in having greater security of supply without putting a drain on cash flows," said Ramaphosa.

He said the severe financial and operational challenges currently being experienced by Eskom are not caused by the independent power producers programme, and in particular the renewable energy projects.

"Eskom's challenges have been driven by massive cost and time overruns on the new build programme, the effects of state capture and corruption, collapse in governance, unsustainable debt levels and poor maintenance of plants," he said.

Ramaphosa pointed out that the independent power producers (IPPs) are investing their own debt and equity to construct these projects, including the cost of connecting these power projects to the grid.
 
The value of the 27 independent power producers' agreements signed in April 2018, represented in terms of private sector investment, is R57bn.
 
To date, the total value of private investment in South Africa's renewable energy generation capacity is R202bn.
 
It is expected that a total of 372 MW will be connected to the grid between now and March 2020 and that Eskom will buy R170m of electricity in the 2019/2020 financial year.


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