'Zola Tsotsi is a bully': Eskom board battle laid bare at state capture inquiry

10 September 2020 - 19:48
Venete Klein accused former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi (pictured) of being a bully who must take responsibility of the mess at Eskom under his leadership.
Venete Klein accused former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi (pictured) of being a bully who must take responsibility of the mess at Eskom under his leadership.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi

Former Eskom board member Venete Klein has accused her erstwhile colleague Zola Tsotsi of being a "bully" who must carry most of the blame for the wrongs at the power utility when he was chairperson. 

Klein was testifying at the Zondo commission of inquiry into state capture on Thursday.

Her accusation contradicts Tsotsi's testimony before the commission, in which he claimed the Eskom board ganged up against him.

But Klein said Tsotsi had it coming when he was pushed out of the Eskom board on March 30 2015 because he had been "bullying" the rest of his colleagues into making the wrong decisions.

Klein charged that Tsotsi was known to withhold information from his colleagues and shut down dissenting board members during meetings.

Tsotsi was pushed to resign from the Eskom board after his colleagues expressed a vote of no confidence against him and subjected him to a disciplinary hearing. The hearing never reached the point of issuing a verdict against Tsotsi, after an exit was negotiated to avoid a protracted tussle. 

Klein told the commission why the rest of the Eskom board had lost confidence in Tsotsi. This included what the board saw as his manipulation of a press statement, issued by the board at the time, about the formation of an inquiry into problems at the power utility.

Klein said consultant Nick Linnell, who was introduced to the Eskom board by Tsotsi, was meant to coordinate the inquiry, but the press statement allegedly issued by Tsotsi claimed he would oversee the whole investigation.

The statement, Klein added, also stated that the Eskom board had agreed to appoint a retired judge to chair the inquiry.

"Those were blatant inaccuracies that were never discussed anywhere by the board with Mr Tsotsi," charged Klein.

"The chairperson [Tsotsi] was being very economical with information and the board was expected to make huge decisions, for which we were trashed in the media."

Tsotsi's testimony at the commission, added Klein, presenting himself as a victim, was far from the truth.

"A lot of the things we experienced right upfront was an inordinate amount of bullying by Mr Tsotsi," said Klein. "With him it was never a case of 'let us discuss this'; but it was 'it is like this because I am telling you'.

"I felt bullied into a lot of what was happening there because issues that were raised were just shut down."

The commission will on Friday hear evidence from Ben Ngubane who succeeded Tsotsi as Eskom board chair. 

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