'Enough evidence for Brown to step in, halt further abuse at Eskom'

06 December 2017 - 17:41
By Linda Ensor
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown.

Parliament’s public enterprises committee believes that sufficient evidence has emerged from its inquiry into state capture of Eskom to prompt actions by Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and the Eskom board "to stop any further abuse of state resources".

This is according to inquiry chairwoman Zukiswa Rantho‚ who was speaking at the end of the proceedings of the inquiry for 2017. It will resume in January.

In her concluding remarks‚ Rantho said the evidence gathered so far by the inquiry over the past few weeks had raised serious allegations about the abuse of state resources at Eskom.

"The committee is gaining a more complete picture of the troubled state of affairs at Eskom. This includes evidence of serious governance failures‚ clear abuse of state resources and the misconduct of senior officials in these matters.

"The committee is of the view that there is sufficient evidence to prompt actions to be taken by the minister and the Eskom board to stop any further abuse of state resources‚" Rantho said.

Under questioning‚ Eskom acting chairman Zethembe Khoza rated the management of the utility over the past two years at three out of 10‚ where 10 is the highest score. He gave the low rating under questioning by Inkatha Freedom Party Narend Singh.

Before his appointment as acting chairman‚ Khoza was an ordinary board member of the utility‚ he had been on the board since November 2014.

He said his rating was based on the high turnover of chairmen and CEOs at the utility. There have been six CEOs since May 2014‚ the majority of them in an acting capacity.

Khoza said this turnover eroded the institutional memory of the company and prevented CEOs from executing a strategy.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Steve Swart suggested that three might be too high a ranking given the reputational damage that Eskom had suffered with the corruption scandals in which it was involved. It was damaging to Eskom’s reputation that the board received reports following investigations into wrongdoing and then did nothing to act on them. "You should act on those reports instantly to restore the credibility of Eskom‚" Swart said.

ANC MP Mondli Gungubele suggested that as soon as a report dealt with the Guptas it was not taken further and when a good person did not assist in facilitating the interests of the Guptas he or she was suspended.

Khoza denied under questioning by DA MP Natasha Mazzone that he had ever met or taken instructions from any of the Gupta brothers‚ Gupta associate Salim Essa or any of the Zumas since his appointment as acting chairman.

After grilling Khoza‚ EFF MP Marshall Dlamini dismissed the Eskom board as useless. Khoza repeatedly said he did not know or could not recall details that Dlamini asked him about.

Khoza denied that he sent State Security Minister Bongani Bongo — when he was an ordinary MP‚ before he became minister — to see the inquiry’s evidence leader‚ Ntuthuzelo Vanara‚ to offer him a bribe to withdraw from the inquiry.

- BusinessLIVE