The main opposition Democratic Alliance said on Tuesday the government and power company Eskom were blocking its demand for details of diesel deals for the struggling state-owned utility because there were “dodgy”.

The DA said it had last month submitted a request in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) for Eskom to release copies of all diesel contracts signed between January 2007 and April 3 this year. It said the fact that the terms of an emergency diesel deal for the company were being obscured from the public was an indictment on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s governing African National Congress (ANC).

“The ANC’s secretive and lucrative diesel deals have been made carelessly, without fear or thought for future consequences,” DA shadow minister of public enterprises Natasha Mazzone said. “This is yet another desperate attempt by the failing ANC government to keep the lights on until election day.

The ANC has been in power since the advent of democracy in 1994, but could see its majority whittled after elections due on Wednesday against the backdrop of an economy that has struggled to grow over the past decade, with critics largely blaming corruption and mismanagement under the watch of Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma.

Several senior executives at state-owned entities including Eskom — which has struggled to meet electricity demand — have been implicated in the graft.

Earlier this week, online publication News24 reported that it had received information from Eskom in response to a PAIA request which showed that between 2009 and 2019, the utility paid 48 suppliers R47.4 billion for diesel used to keep the lights on.

“So desperate is the ANC that it has now resorted to spending billions it does not have in order create a false impression that there will be light at the end of their tunnel,” Mazzone said on Tuesday, adding that South Africa faced a dark and cold winter.

“The DA will continue to fight to find the truth behind the ANC’s dodgy diesel deals. South Africa needs full transparency about where the money to secure diesel is coming from, what the terms of the agreements are and whether due procurement processes were followed.”