Parliament’s oversight committee on mineral resources and energy has voted to scrap a planned probe into SA’s emergency power plan.
All six ANC committee members voted to scrap the probe, while the DA’s two members said it should continue.
The DA says it will approach Parliament’s rules committee after two ANC members alleged its objections were based on racism.
The ANC has voted to scrap a planned Parliamentary investigation into the state’s much-delayed plan to fast-track the building of emergency power plants.
Parliament’s oversight committee on mineral resources and energy voted in August last year to launch a probe into the Risk Mitigation IPP Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP), an initiative to add 2 000 MW of new power to SA’s grid quickly. The inquiry’s terms of reference were agreed on in December.
The inquiry was set to probe the rationale and costs of the procurement programme, as well as allegations of wrongdoing related to the naming of Turkish-led consortium Karpowership SA as the largest bidder.
Losing bidder DNG Energy had alleged that the procurement process that led to Karpowership winning the lion’s share of the bid had been riddled with corruption.
But late in January, the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria dismissed DNG’s challenge, ruling that it had been excluded for not meeting procurement requirements.
On Tuesday, six ANC committee members, including committee chair Sahlulele “Zet” Luzipo, voted to scrap the probe. The DA’s two members objected.
The vote followed a briefing by Parliamentary legal advisor Andile Tetyana, who said the High Court ruling had found no evidence of wrongdoing in the RMIPPPP process.
“The court has put the procurement process under a microscopic eye and came to a factual and legal finding that it was fair and transparent,” said Tetyana.
He said that while there were no legal impediments to the committee continuing with its inquiry, there was no need to “reinvent the wheel”.
While Tetyana’s input convinced the ANC that there was no need for the committee to continue the probe, the DA argued that the inquiry could cover new ground.
DA MP Kevin Mileham said the probe would have a far broader scope than the court case by focusing on things like costs, delays and the rationale behind the emergency power in the first place.
He added it was “fishy” that ANC members wanted to halt the inquiry and not investigate the matter further.
But ANC members were adamant the court ruling had put the matter to rest, and it would be a waste of time and money to continue.
“I don’t think there is any basis for us as a committee to continue with this investigation any further. All the issues that were raised as red flags have been addressed by a competent court of law,” said the ANC’s Sibusiso Kula.
“We have been dealing with a witch hunt for a long time,” he added. “We must put the matter to rest”.
The ANC’s Mike Mahlaule then accused “some people” in the meeting – in an apparent reference to the DA – of not respecting the arguments made by Parliament’s legal advisor because he was a black African.
“It borders against some element of racism, because a legal mind that is African is saying things that some people don’t agree with,” he said. “It is a dangerous degeneration of the very worst kind.”
Kula later said that objections to dropping the probe were based on “whiteness”, saying the “minority” was trying to overturn the will of the majority. He said the country would not return to “pre-1994”.
“That Christmas could never occur,” he said.
The DA, which understood itself to be the object of the remarks by both Kula and Mahlaule, asked the committee’s chair to rule that the claims of racism against it were un-parliamentary.
When the chair declined to do so, the party said it would be taking the matter to Parliament’s rules committee as it was “absolutely unacceptable” that such language be accepted in Parliament.
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