Sting­ing tes­ti­mony makes damn­ing al­le­ga­tions against Lynne Brown

Cape Times - - BUSINESS REPORT - Siseko Njobeni

IN AN un­prece­dented move, Eskom yes­ter­day dis­tanced it­self from the tes­ti­mony of board spokesper­son Khu­lani Qoma and head of le­gal and com­pli­ance Suzanne Daniels in the on­go­ing par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into Eskom.

Qoma was yes­ter­day sting­ing in his tes­ti­mony and made damn­ing al­le­ga­tions against Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown, say­ing, among other things, that she took in­struc­tions from the Gupta broth­ers and blocked the sus­pen­sion of for­mer in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive Mat­shela Koko.

In a frank tes­ti­mony, Qoma took aim at Brown, the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble for Eskom.

“The prob­lem here is the min­is­ter. She is in the midst of wa­ter and yet says she is not wet. The min­is­ter will never be able to ex­plain why she is in the midst of wa­ter and she is not wet.

“The fact of the mat­ter is that if we deal with the re­spect of of­fice, this min­is­ter needs to sit here and ac­count. She is to­tally in­com­pe­tent,” said Qoma.

He said Eskom act­ing board chair­per­son Zethembe Khoza had told him that Brown re­ported to the Gupta fam­ily.

He said Brown had also gone out of her way to pro­tect now sus­pended ex­ec­u­tives Mat­shela Koko and Anoj Singh.

Qoma said when for­mer Eskom chair­per­son Ben Ngubane was on the verge of sus­pend­ing Koko ear­lier this year, Brown stepped in and halted the sus­pen­sion. He said Brown had acted on the in­struc­tions of the Gup­tas.

Qoma said that he was shocked at Koko’s el­e­va­tion to in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive last year de­spite the con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing him.

He re­ferred to an in­ter­view that Koko did with cur­rent af­fairs pro­gramme Carte Blanche in which he ini­tially de­nied that Eskom had paid R586 mil­lion to Gupta-linked Tegeta Ex­plo­ration and Re­sources only to ad­mit when pre­sented with a doc­u­ment which Koko had signed.

But the Eskom board took an un­usual step and Eskom is­sued a state­ment in which it dis­tanced it­self from Qoma’s tes­ti­mony.

Eskom chair­per­son Zethembe Khoza said that the man­ner in which Qoma spoke yes­ter­day about Brown was not part of the Eskom cul­ture.

“There have been sev­eral wit­nesses that have been called to give their tes­ti­monies, who have clearly rep­re­sented their own in­ter­ests at the ex­pense of the or­gan­i­sa­tion and the coun­try at large. We un­der­stand that Eskom will be given an op­por­tu­nity to make a for­mal pre­sen­ta­tion at the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry, where it will give an hon­est, trans­par­ent and truth­ful ac­count of events,” said Khoza.

Eskom’s state­ment came hours af­ter Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown and her Deputy Ben Martins yes­ter­day crit­i­cised the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry.

Brown said that “un­less the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions of malfea­sance at sta­te­owned com­pa­nies gives those who have been ac­cused of wrong­do­ing the op­por­tu­nity to ex­plain their ac­tions, it will serve no higher func­tion than ad­vanc­ing po­lit­i­cal agen­das and fur­ther un­der­min­ing the econ­omy.

“Few South Africans will dis­agree that strength­en­ing gover­nance at state-owned com­pa­nies is a na­tional im­per­a­tive; the com­pa­nies form the spine of our econ­omy and their well-be­ing is there­fore in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to that of the coun­try.

“The swirl of al­le­ga­tions that have en­veloped them must be in­ves­ti­gated and set right,” said Brown.

Martins also upped the ante in his ef­forts to dis­pute sus­pended Eskom head of le­gal and com­pli­ance Suzanne Daniels tes­ti­mony at the in­quiry last week.

Daniels al­leged, among oth­ers, that Martins was part of a meet­ing in Mel­rose Arch, Jo­han­nes­burg, at which Ajay Gupta said he would in­flu­ence the dates for Brian Molefe’s pen­sion pay­out court case.

Martins has de­nied be­ing part of the meet­ing.

PHOTO: SIMPHIWE MBOKAZI/ANA

Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown has been ac­cused of in­com­pe­tence and act­ing on Gupta in­struc­tions.

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