Did former Eskom board chair Zola Tsotsi lie to the Zondo commission?

26 February 2021 - 13:18 By mawande amashabalala
Former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi was grilled about a list of names he claimed he ignored. File imge.
Former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi was grilled about a list of names he claimed he ignored. File imge.
Image: Esa Alexander

In his affidavit submitted to the state capture inquiry, former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi claimed he “quietly ignored” a list of the composition of board committees sent to him by Gupta foot soldier Salim Essa in December 2014.

But e-mail communication between Tsotsi and erstwhile public enterprises minister Lynne Brown proves Tsotsi owned the list as his own.

Essa had instructed Tsotsi to send the Gupta list to Brown as his own, and he did exactly that.

Tsotsi would, however, have a change of heart more than a month later when he amended the Gupta list and sent new recommendations to Brown.

“Mr Tsotsi, there aren’t two meanings about ignoring something, there is only one. Ignoring something is to do absolutely nothing  about it,” said the inquiry chairperson, deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo.

“Here you did not do nothing about Mr Salim Essa’s composition, but you did exactly what he asked you to do.

“You presented it as your own to the minister. Therefore it is not correct to say you ignored it. It cannot be correct.”

A defeated Tsotsi responded: “Yes chairperson.”

Evidence leader advocate Pule Seleka SC added: “Mr Tsotsi said in his affidavit, ‘I quietly ignored and sent mine to the minister,’ and I think it is clear it cannot have another interpretation.”

Tsotsi, who is among those with the most appearances at the inquiry, has been parading himself as the Eskom board member who opposed the company’s Gupta capture through the board widely referred to as “the Gupta board” on which he was chairperson before being voted out. 

Brown has provided the inquiry with her version of the list, disputing Tsotsi’s assertion.

According to Brown, Tsotsi never told her the list he sent as his was in fact composed by “a stranger to Eskom”.

“It is inexplicable to me that in the execution of the board’s task for appointing members of committees, Mr Tsotsi would not generate his own list but would rather work on a list allegedly compiled by a stranger to Eskom,” Brown said in her affidavit. 

“Mr Tsotsi never specified at any stage the composition of this list [Essa’s] and nor did he ever indicate what his own drawn-up list looked like.”

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