With board members resigning in numbers and a Gupta cloud hanging over it, who will lead the power supplier is anyone’s guess
Mark Pamensky this week became the second Eskom board member to resign in the wake of the State of Capture report.
The relatively little-known nonexecutive director had links to the Guptas through four different companies.
Although Pamensky had apparently not taken part in the meetings okaying deals with the Guptas, he was at the meeting where one key decision was taken.
This was on April 23 last year when the board decided to not sign off on a revised coal deal with Glencore, but instead sent it to Molefe, who had been “seconded” from Transnet less than a week before.
Molefe scrapped the deal, allegedly to enable the Guptas to swoop in and buy the Optimum mine, a decision that sits at the heart of Madonsela’s observations about Eskom.
Even if Pamensky were not on the board committee making subsequent decisions in favour of the Guptas, he “would have or could have access to privileged or sensitive information regarding [Optimum] and various Eskom contracts”, wrote Madonsela.
“Such information, coupled with a personal economic interest, would give Tegeta an unfair advantage over other interested buyers. It would be important to understand the role of this individual,” she said.
Most of the Eskom board members who are accused of Gupta-related conflicts of interest in Madonsela’s report have left Eskom already.
All of them had joined the board at the same time, in December 2014.
Nonexecutive director Nazia Carrim’s alleged conflict was that she is married to a family member of Salim Essa, the face of many Gupta family business ventures. She left Eskom in July this year. Eskom said her alleged conflict of interest was not material and that she had no obligation to report it because the indirect familial relationship was not covered by Eskom’s policy on conflicting interests.
Nonexecutive director Devapushpum Naidoo resigned on the same day as Carrim.
Naidoo’s conflict arose from her marriage to Kubentheran Moodley – an adviser to Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who is separately accused of doing the Gupta family’s bidding.
More importantly, Moodley is the sole director of a company called Albatime, which co-funded the Guptas’ acquisition of the Optimum coal mine.
This means that an Eskom director’s husband is a coinvestor in the mine that the Eskom board is alleged to have handed to the Guptas on a silver platter. Naidoo left the Eskom board on July 1 this year.
Romeo Khumalo, another nonexecutive director, had in 2013 joined a company called Uriji Technologies.
The ever-present Essa joined him there at the same time. Khumalo quit the Eskom board in April this year.
Mariam Cassim, another nonexecutive director of Eskom, had one of the more tenuous Gupta links – she had allegedly worked for one of their companies, Sahara Computers, in the past.
She also left the Eskom board in April this year.