Gordhan challenges Brown's 'innocent' quote

Public Enterprises Minister pushes for internal disciplinary procedures at Eskom to be concluded soon

05 October 2017 - 06:39 By Nico Gous And Linda Ensor
Pravin Gordhan. File photo.
Pravin Gordhan. File photo.

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan challenged Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown's statement in parliament on Wedneday that those implicated in state capture are innocent until proven guilty.

"In a context where we have state capture pervading state-owned enterprises, other institutions and law enforcement agencies as well, by implication, how are we going to get to a position where those who are truly guilty of things are actually going to be charged so that we can actually say innocent until proven guilty?" said Gordhan, in his capacity as MP.

Brown, addressing parliament's portfolio committee on public enterprises on Wednesday, said the Special Investigating Unit had agreed on the terms of reference for an investigation into Eskom's governance and procurement and to expedite the McKinsey/Trillian aspect of the investigation.

She said the investigation would be too slow for those "baying for the immediate shedding of heads".

"The last time I looked, people were still entitled to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty or otherwise."

Gordhan said the department's director-general Mogokare Seleke, who was present in parliament, was implicated in the Gupta
e-mails. "Has that been investigated? Is it going to be investigated? When can we expect the results of any investigation in that particular regard as well?" he asked.

ANC MP Mondli Gungubele said the increase of fruitless and wasteful expenditure by SOEs shows "everything is moving in the wrong direction".

Wasteful spending at Eskom soared to R547-million in 2016/17 from R93-million in 2015/16, the Auditor General's office told parliament, reports Reuters.

Brown told MPs she intends to arrange a special general meeting of Eskom in November to appoint a permanent board.

"In the meantime, I have asked Mr Khoza [interim chairman Zethemba Khoza] to ensure that all internal disciplinary procedures relating to allegations of wrongful conduct at the utility are concluded," Brown said.

Eskom, she said, had to get new executives and strengthen its disclosure system.

"I would like to think that structures can be put in place to avoid a repetition of the ease with which Eskom appears to have been able to lie to its shareholders in respect of its dealings with McKinsey and Trillian. I regard Eskom's lies as an assault on our democratic system of governance," the minister said.