State capture inquiry to hear evidence from former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona

07 September 2020 - 07:23
By belinda pheto AND Belinda Pheto
 Tshediso Matona, former CEO at Eskom, will testify at the state capture inquiry on Monday.
Image: SIMPHIWE NKWALI Tshediso Matona, former CEO at Eskom, will testify at the state capture inquiry on Monday.

The state capture inquiry will on Monday hear Eskom-related evidence from the power utility's former CEO Tshediso Matona.

Matona was Eskom CEO from October 2014 to March 2015.

In 2017, he presented evidence to an inquiry by Parliament's public enterprises committee into allegations of capture of state-owned enterprises.

At the time, he told the inquiry how governance and the ethical environment at the parastatal were deteriorating when he took over as CEO in 2014.

There was also infighting within the board‚ led by then-chairman Zola Tsotsi‚ over procurement issues‚ to the extent that the board had become almost dysfunctional.

Matona said at the time of his tenure‚ the moral and ethical fabric of the state-owned enterprise needed urgent attention. Several employees were on suspension‚ and the numbers were increasing.

Matona was suspended in March 2015 for reasons he said he could not understand‚ but he surmised that his continuation as CEO did not fit in with the plans of the board.

He said his suspension came as “a complete shock" to him. The decision was taken by a new board that had just taken office before it had even taken the time to familiarise itself with Eskom's affairs.

Matona was replaced by Brian Molefe‚ who was accused in former public protector Thuli Madonsela's State of Capture report of having facilitated the awarding of contracts to Gupta-linked companies.

Matona‚ who was previously director-general of the departments of trade and industry and public enterprises‚ challenged his suspension at the Labour Court and the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration‚ but eventually abandoned the case when it became apparent the board was determined not to take him back.

"I chose to leave that sordid and sorry episode behind me and continue with my life," Matona said‚ adding that his suspension had dealt a mortal blow to trust between himself and the Eskom board.

Matona also said his suspension was a "misgovernance" event that triggered a downgrade of Eskom by the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s.

The state capture inquiry is on Monday also scheduled to hear evidence from Nicholas (Nick) Linnell, who was allegedly part of a meeting at former president Jacob Zuma’s home in March 2015 where the former Eskom board chair Tsotsi met with Zuma, former SAA chairperson Dudu Myeni and her son Thalente.

Tsotsi told the same parliamentary inquiry that during the meeting, Myeni suggested that Linnell should draft a resolution to present to the board. Tsotsi said Myeni had told him that, because of Eskom's financial difficulties, an inquiry should be instituted and three of the utility's executives - acting CEO Matona, Dan Marokane and Matshela Koko - should be suspended.