Eskom board chair Ben Ngubane denies the damning corruption allegations levelled against himself and Chief Operating Officer Brian Molefe in regard to the sale of Optimum mine, Eyewitness News reported on Tuesday.
AmaBhungane released an investigative report revealing evidence that strongly suggests that Ngubane may have had a hand in the Gupta family buying the Optimum mine. In the report, former Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi alleges that Molefe and Ngubane attempted to bully him into blackmailling resources giant Glenore, to ensure that a Gupta-owned company could take control of the mine, and that Zuma had fired him for failing to comply
Ngubane told Eyewitness News that Ramatlhodi's allegations were "preposterous" and false.
"We can't instruct a minister on what to do. We take our problems to ministers and ask for help. Now for a minister to claim that we made him take a decision on something is preposterous, he said.
Glencore, which used to own Optimum, had placed the mine into business rescue in August after Molefe refused to renegotiate the price of a long-term supply contract and reinstated a disputed R2,17 billion penalty that Optimum supposedly owed for supplying substandard coal.
According to amaBhungane's investigation, Ngubane and Molefe had demanded that Ramatlhodi suspend all Glencore's mining licences in South Africa. If Ramatlhodi had complied with this demand, then all of Glencore's licenses would have brought Glencore's 14 coal operations to a standstill and risked the jobs of its 35,000 employees in South Africa. At the time Glencore supplied roughly 14% of Eskom's coal needs. Ramatlhodi alleges that his failure to comply is the reason Zuma fired him.