Lynne Brown fears 'kangaroo court' in Eskom inquiry

14 November 2017 - 16:26 By Bianca Capazorio
Lynne Brown.
Lynne Brown.
Image: Supplied

Public enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says Parliament's inquiry into state capture runs the risk of becoming a "kangaroo court" after it heard testimony that she was a liar‚ an "atrocious minister" and responsible for the problems in Eskom.

Eskom board spokesman Khulani Qoma did not hold back as he testified in the Public Enterprises committee inquiry on Tuesday that Brown was surrounded by captured individuals but tried to convince people that she herself was not.

“Minister Brown has gone to the end of the world telling us she is not wet‚ but she is right in the midst of water. Her DG is captured‚ her PA is captured‚ obviously her lover has interests at Eskom.

“Minister Brown lies‚ she lies all the time and she thinks we can't see it.”

He went on saying: “The problem here is the minister. This minister needs to sit here and account because this mess would not have been possible if she was a capable minister. She's totally incapable‚ there's no doubt about that."

He detailed how earlier this year‚ following severe damage to Eskom's corporate image‚ former board chairman Dr Ben Ngubane “came close to suspending acting CEO Matshela Koko” but said he was stopped at the eleventh hour by Brown.

Qoma told the committee that on the day in question‚ Koko had been called back to Eskom and Ngubane had met with the board to discuss his suspension.

However‚ “Mr (Zethemba) Khoza told me that he snuck out and made a call to a G-brother - which I understood to mean a Gupta brother”.

He said the Guptas had called Brown who called Ngubane and halted the suspension.

Qoma said that Khoza had told him that “Minister Brown is captured” and that four new board members would be appointed by the Guptas.

Qoma was head-hunted by members of the Eskom board last year in a bid to deal with “reputational issues” that had mainly stemmed from the Public Protector's State of Capture report.

He also told the committee that Ngubane had attempted to bring former ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus on board to help with communications‚ but Qoma said this did not make business sense.

He said before he had started‚ Koko had appeared on Carte Blanche where he had “totally lied” on television about the pre-payment made to Tegeta for the purchase of the Optimum coal mine.

“The minister appointed Koko after he lied on Carte Blanche. She brought (Brian) Molefe and Anoj (Singh).”

He said Koko‚ together with CFO Anoj Singh “were eating the entire asset of the state faster than you can imagine”.

Qoma later penned a damning report about the reputational damage at Eskom‚ suggesting that Koko needed to be removed.

He said Brown had repeatedly been lied to‚ and had misled Parliament as a result‚ but said she did little to act against those who “caused her to lie”.

Brown said in her statement issued after the testimony that the inquiry had to give right of response to all those implicated or risk becoming a "kangaroo court".

On the substance of the testimony she said "I do not take instructions from anyone" and said Eskom officials had "intentionally misled" her on the Trillian matter.

In a statement issued earlier in the day‚ deputy public enterprises minister Ben Martins also raised concerns about the manner in which the hearings were being conducted.

That statement said Brown had written three letters regarding the inquiry‚ raising procedural issues‚ "the evidence leader's conflicted role" and his "failure to act ethically”.

This was because evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara had allowed testimony implicating people without advising those people that would be implicated‚ thereby "violating their human dignity".