Mantashe 'worried' by Mbeki's comments on Eskom, SA leadership

Mantashe 'worried' by Mbeki's comments on Eskom, SA leadership

Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe says he's left 'worried' by scathing criticism, following comments by former President Thabo Mbeki that the country is suffering from a leadership void. 

Govt won’t formalise 'zama zamas' - Mantashe

Speaking at the Thabo Mbeki African School dialogue with students at Unisa on Wednesday, the former president took a swipe at Eskom's executive when he quoted former statistician-general Pali Lehohla, who described Eskom as an energy institution and a business that should have engineers and economists at the helm - but instead has politicians and accountants. 

Mbeki reiterated calls for a social compact to address the legacy of inequities brought on by apartheid and colonialism. He had previously hit out at President Cyril Ramaphosa for failing to deliver on the promises he made during his State of the Nation Address to have a social agreement that would address poverty, unemployment, and other socio-economic issues plaguing South Africans.

Mantashe says retired leaders, such as Mbeki, have the responsibility to assist those who are still in power. 

"I get worried when leaders begin to speak about leadership void and deficit ...The leadership that I am expecting from my former presidents is that they will assist the current president to grapple with issues. But, if they take the podium and say he is useless, he's a disaster, then I switch off my radio. Because it's an easy way out, it doesn't talk to the problems that we are confronted with," Mantashe said.

The minerals minister also said the notion of political interference in the running of Eskom is linked to state capture which was created to facilitate widespread theft and malfeasance but denied there is any political influence. 

"If politics is a conflict of various ideologies in Eskom, then I would be worried. But if the politics that we are referring to, is the aftermath of state Capture, we are coming to close to the issue because state capture was about a framework directed at stealing and therefore created all sorts of problems. If that is what you call politics, then maybe you are correct. But politics, in general, will not apply in Eskom." 

Mantashe says former leaders who were quick to criticise their successors, and predecessors ran the risk of implying they themselves are impeccable. 

Mbeki has been accused of attempting to 'sanitize' his own image by distancing himself from decisions during his tenure, including addressing load shedding which began in 2007.


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