Public Pro­tec­tor may drop Eskom probe

CityPress - - News - ANDISIWE MAKINANA andisiwe.makinana@city­press.co.za

Public Pro­tec­tor Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane may not in­ves­ti­gate mul­ti­mil­lion-rand cases in­volv­ing for­mer Eskom boss Brian Molefe and for­mer act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Mat­shela Koko.

She claimed that this was due to a sec­ond on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Par­lia­ment.

Mkhwe­bane said in a let­ter to DA leader Mmusi Maimane that she was con­sid­er­ing whether it would be pru­dent for her to con­tinue with the in­ves­ti­ga­tions as a par­lia­men­tary inquiry is charged with the same mat­ter. Mkhwe­bane claimed that fi­nan­cial con­straints were at the heart of the mat­ter.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tions per­tain to a R30 mil­lion pen­sion pay­out made by Eskom to Molefe, as well as al­le­ga­tions that Koko awarded a R1 bil­lion con­tract to his step­daugh­ter.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is on­go­ing. It has also been noted that Par­lia­ment, in par­tic­u­lar the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on public en­ter­prises, was also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the same mat­ter re­lat­ing to sim­i­lar is­sues,” she wrote.

Mkhwe­bane said her of­fice’s pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter had been con­cluded, but she was still in a process of con­sid­er­ing whether the Public Pro­tec­tor should con­duct a par­al­lel in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

While Molefe and Koko may have a stay of ex­e­cu­tion, Co­op­er­a­tive Gov­er­nance and Tra­di­tional Af­fairs Min­is­ter Des van Rooyen may not be so lucky.

Mkhwe­bane plans to re­veal her find­ings soon on whether he mis­led Par­lia­ment and the public about his al­leged vis­its to the Gupta fam­ily home in Sax­on­wold ahead of his dis­as­trous ap­point­ment as fi­nance min­is­ter in De­cem­ber 2015.

In her State of Cap­ture re­port, Mkhwe­bane’s pre­de­ces­sor Thuli Madon­sela found that Van Rooyen could be placed at the Sax­on­wold area on at least seven oc­ca­sions, in­clud­ing on the day be­fore he was an­nounced as fi­nance min­is­ter. “This looks anoma­lous given that at the time he was a Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment based in Cape Town,” Madon­sela wrote.

Van Rooyen re­peat­edly de­nied vis­it­ing the Gupta home be­fore his ap­point­ment, in­clud­ing in an­swers to Par­lia­ment. This led to the DA’s re­quest that Mkhwe­bane in­ves­ti­gate whether he mis­led Par­lia­ment about the al­leged visit to the po­lit­i­cally aligned fam­ily. “The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into this mat­ter has been con­cluded and I am in a process of finalising my re­port on the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. It is en­vis­aged that the re­port will be is­sued soon,” wrote Mkhwe­bane in the let­ter to Maimane, dated Novem­ber 2.

In the same let­ter, Mkhwe­bane re­veals that her of­fice is in­un­dated with com­plaints about state cap­ture.

“The al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture are se­ri­ous and if not at­tended to prop­erly and suf­fi­ciently, they have a po­ten­tial to com­pro­mise our con­sti­tu­tional democ­racy,” she wrote.

“Un­for­tu­nately, new al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture keep on com­ing ev­ery day and due to the ca­pac­ity con­straints within the Of­fice of the Public Pro­tec­tor, I have de­cided that those al­le­ga­tions of state cap­ture will be best dealt with by the com­mis­sion of inquiry.”

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Po­lice Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula and for­mer act­ing po­lice com­mis­sioner Kho­motso Phahlane is also at an ad­vanced stage. They have been ac­cused of al­legedly mis­us­ing state re­sources by pro­vid­ing VIP pro­tec­tion for ANC MP and pres­i­den­tial fron­trun­ner Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The let­ter shows that there is no love lost be­tween Mkhwe­bane and the DA. The party op­posed her ap­point­ment in Septem­ber last year and ac­cused her of be­ing a spy on the State Se­cu­rity Agency’s pay­roll.

Re­cently the DA tried to ini­ti­ate a par­lia­men­tary process to have Mkhwe­bane re­moved from her po­si­tion, but was un­suc­cess­ful.

She wrote: “The tone and in­sin­u­a­tion on your afore­said let­ter, es­pe­cially per­tain­ing to the press­ing mat­ters re­gard­ing the per­for­mance of the Of­fice of the Public Pro­tec­tor and the need for a Public Pro­tec­tor who is wholly com­mit­ted to fight­ing for the peo­ple of South Africa, is re­gret­table and very un­for­tu­nate.”

Maimane wrote to Mkhwe­bane on Septem­ber 26 re­quest­ing a for­mal meet­ing to dis­cuss a “press­ing mat­ter”. In his let­ter he in­sin­u­ated that Mkhwe­bane was not com­mit­ted to her job.

He told City Press yes­ter­day that the coun­try needed to be able to trust the Public Pro­tec­tor.

“The au­thor­ity of her of­fice re­lies on the cred­i­bil­ity of the de­ci­sions she makes and ac­tions she takes. Un­for­tu­nately, that cred­i­bil­ity has taken a hard knock in the months since her ap­point­ment,” Maimane said.

Bu­sisiwe Mkhwe­bane

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