Newly-elected ANC MP Brian Molefe has faced a barrage of insults from the opposition benches, as speaker of the National Assembly Baleka Mbete announced his official appointment to Parliament.
Within minutes of the video stream from Paliament’s sitting going live, Mbete announced that Molefe had been elected to Parliament to replace a vacancy in the ANC caucus.
Opposition benches raised their voices, and EFF MP Moses Mbatha asked the speaker: “Where is that corrupt bastard?”
Other MPs accused Molefe of being a Gupta ‘deployee’, while Cope MP Deirdre Carter said that the “immorality compass” in Parliament was pointing directly at him.
Molefe, meanwhile, sat quietly while learning how to use the Parliamentary systems.
Outside of Parliament, civil group Save SA said that South Africans should rally against Molefe’s appointment, adding that he should have been punished, rather than ‘promoted’.
“Brian Molefe’s appointment as a Member of Parliament is proof that President Jacob Zuma’s administration does not punish corrupt conduct,” said Save South Africa’s Lawson Naidoo in a statement.
Molefe’s nomination by the North West province has been mired in controversy, with former branch leaders claiming to have no knowledge of Molefe’s membership.
He resigned as Eskom CEO after being implicated in former Public Protector Thuli Madonsela’s State of Capture report.
The report contained phone call records, showing that Molefe and the Gupta brothers had made 58 phone calls to each other in a small window of time.
This was over and above allegations contained in the report that the Gupta family had received preferential treatment by Eskom, and were even ‘bailed out’ by the power utility, where Eskom funded the family’s acquisition of Optimum coal mines.
“If the public does not voice and demonstrate their total opposition to this appointment, then Molefe’s handlers may soon have unfettered access to the public purse,” said Naidoo.
Naidoo said Molefe was just one step away from being a Cabinet minister.
It has been speculated that Molefe is being primed to replace an official in the finance ministry in the next Cabinet reshuffle – either replacing finance minister Pravin Gordhan, his deputy, Mcebisi Jonas.
Analysts have been expecting a reshuffle for a number of months, but understood that the process had been delayed because president Jacob Zuma wanted Molefe to move into a more prominent position – however he needed to be elected as an MP first.
Now that he has been elected as an MP, all eyes will be on the president as to where Molefe will fit into the picture.
“Molefe’s appointment marks a potential turning point for the state capture project,” he said.
The lobby group said it would support protests organised by other organisations, in the interest of building a broader front against state capture.
“South Africa has not forgotten the reasons Molefe gave when he quit Eskom on 11 November 2016. He told South Africans he was leaving in the interests of good corporate governance,” Naidoo said.