Mabuza hits out at Mboweni over Eskom privatisation views

Deputy president David Mabuza stressed to the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon that there were no plans by government to privatise the country’s beleaguered power utility, Eskom.

He was responding to questions in light of Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni’s tendency to give his personal view on what should be done with state entities that have been rocked with mismanagement, crippling debt and corruption.

For instance, during a briefing before his first national budget speech in February, Mboweni said he saw no point in government holding onto and supporting ailing entities when they could instead be released or closed down altogether.

President Cyril Ramaphosa announced during his State of The Nation Address, also in February, that Eskom would be broken up into three companies – for generation, transmission and distribution.

In a reply to a question from Democratic Alliance MP Natasha Mazzone, Mabuza said Mboweni’s personal views should not be taken as ANC policy when it came to state owned entities.

"Whatever the minister of finance said related to privatisation ... is the opinion of the minister. There is no government position on the privatisation of Eskom. When you are in the state you cease to be an individual. You don’t just stand up and say whatever you want to say," said Mabuza.

Mabuza came teasingly close to warning his colleagues in Cabinet against giving their personal opinions on governance, lest these be conflated with government policy.

Mabuza said the sub cabinet committee on Eskom would give a report to Cabinet as soon as it had assessed Eskom's challenges.