We're paying for corruption, but at least jail looms for the looters

10 March 2019 - 00:01 By SUNDAY TIMES

Brace yourself. There is pain awaiting you and many other ordinary South Africans in the coming years. This week the National Energy Regulator of SA announced it had approved electricity tariff increases for the next three years. This means you will now be paying more for electricity than you have ever done. This year the price of electricity will go up by 9.41%, then 8.10% next year and 5.22% in 2021. These increases are on top of the 4.41% hike that was approved in October - bringing the price increase for this year to over 13%.
Experts and analysts have warned that these hikes are short-sighted and reckless, and will have catastrophic consequences for the man or woman in the street. Ordinary South Africans, already hard-pressed on every side and still reeling from the rising costs of fuel, cannot bear another above-inflation increase. This increase will lead to you paying more for your food and other necessities, and you will now have less disposable income.
What must be made clear is that the pain you are going to experience in the coming months is the effect of a government that has been mismanaged for close to a decade. If you are one of those who has not fully understood the cost of state capture, this is when everything starts making sense. Sadly it is ordinary South Africans, like you, who will feel the pinch. This could have been avoided had those we entrusted with the responsibility of governing this country, through the power of our votes, not dipped their hands into public coffers. Things could have turned out differently had those tasked with managing our state-owned assets, like Eskom and other enterprises, not used these as their own piggy banks.
It is painful what happened at Eskom in just less than 20 years. The power utility used to be one of the best-run state-owned companies. Under the leadership of Thulani Gcabashe, who left Eskom in 2007, the company was ranked one of the best power utilities in the world. Instead of handing over the baton and giving it to other competent, morally upright and ethical leaders when Gcabashe left, we allowed the responsibility of managing the asset to be given to, among others, Brian Molefe, Anoj Singh and Matshela Koko. They facilitated the looting of billions of tax rands from Eskom. Jabu Mabuza, Eskom board chair, has provided deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo's state capture commission of inquiry with a list of names of prominent former Eskom executives whom he wants subpoenaed. They include Koko, Singh and Molefe.
We, too, cannot wait for their day before the commission. Koko has had a lot to say in recent months. If we did not know better, we would have believed his narrative of a corruption-busting crusader at Eskom who was pushed aside to break Eskom and discredit the government. But evidence already before the commission points to him as one of the key enablers of state capture.
We have heard how Koko sent nearly a dozen e-mails to a person believed to be Gupta family kingpin Salim Essa, giving him a heads-up on contracts on offer at Eskom. Evidence has also been led at the inquiry of how Koko signed off on a R659m coal pre-payment to the Gupta company Tegeta that was used by the family to buy the Optimum coal mine.
Today we report about an international engineering giant's explosive admission to local investigators that its executives colluded with Koko to win lucrative contracts from Eskom. Swiss-based electrical engineering firm Asea Brown Boveri provided South African law-enforcement agencies with documents, including e-mails, in which its officials talk about how Koko promised it R6.5bn in contracts provided it continued giving work to his stepdaughter's company. Linking Koko to corrupt activities at Eskom and providing evidence are the first steps in making sure that those responsible for this mess spend the rest of their lives behind bars. People like Koko deserve to go to jail.

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.