ANCYL in coal bribe scandal
Firm says R500 000 went to Collen Maine for ‘political solution’ to rescue Eskom deal
ANC Youth League president Collen Maine negotiated and accepted a half a million rand “donation” from a coal company after promising he could prevent its contract with Eskom being scrapped.
At the time of the donation Eskom had given notice that it was planning to terminate its R8-billion contract with Just Coal.
Fearing Eskom would go ahead with the threat, owners of the company met with Maine, who they allege promised to find a “political solution” to its problems with Eskom, but said this would come at a price — a R500 000 donation to the ANCYL.
Although the money was paid, Maine never delivered the promised “political solution” and Just Coal’s contract was subsequently terminated.
The company has now turned to parliament and the courts seeking the reinstatement of the contract.
Maine yesterday confirmed that “we did receive the donation as requested by myself on behalf of the youth league”.
However, he denied promising to secure the contract for the company.
Maine said the money from Just Coal was paid into the youth league’s bank account.
The donation to the youth league is one of many such payments that Just Coal, owned by billionaire Joe Singh, claims to have been “forced” to pay to Gauteng politicians and senior Eskom executives.
In its explosive document submitted to parliament last month, the company says it was approached by a Gauteng politician in March. The politician — who is not named — wanted Just Coal to give a stake in the business and at least 50 trucks to a company — also not named — linked to now suspended Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko if it wanted to keep its contract.
The claims are repeated in Just Coal’s summons, which was served on Eskom this month.
The dossier was sent to the National Council of Provinces’ select committee on communications and public enterprises on August 3 and copied to Public Enterprises Director-General Richard Seleke. Committee chairwoman Ellen Prins said she had not received the dossier yet.
In the letter to parliament, Singh’s lawyer Brandon Tshabangu wrote: “In early March 2017, we received a message from one senior ANC leader, who informed us that we should give 20% of our company to a company associated to Matshela Koko and should we refuse, we shall in a few days receive a letter that Matshela Koko will terminate our 10year coal supply agreement with Eskom.
“We also received requests for financial gratifications and we complied with some and refused many. As a result of our refusal, on 28 March 2017, our 10-year coal-supply [agreement] was unlawfully terminated by Matshela Koko.”
This is not the first time Koko has been linked to controversy. He is facing a disciplinary hearing over allegations that he awarded about R1-billion in contracts to a company associated with his stepdaughter,
A report by Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr recommended he be disciplined and that all contracts associated with the company, Impulse International, after Choma joined it be investigated.
The Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act describes the offering, acceptance or payment of a gratification as corruption.
“Any person who directly or indirectly (a) accepts or agrees or offers to accept any gratification from any other person, whether for the benefit of himself or herself or for the benefit of another person or (b) gives or agrees or offers to give to any other person any gratification, whether for the benefit of that other person or for the benefit of another person . . . is guilty of corruption,” it says.
Eskom would not discuss Singh’s allegations as the circumstances of its “cancellation of the contract and its reasons for doing so, are the subject of a pending court case . . . Eskom confirms that a criminal investigation has commenced and it would be premature . . . to comment thereon”.
Koko, who denied any wrongdoing, referred all questions to Eskom, but said: “I reject any allegations of impropriety.”
Singh, through his lawyer, declined to comment as the matter was going before the courts.
It is unclear how Maine learnt of the impasse between Just Coal and Koko.
Nonetheless, the Sunday Times understands that after Maine met with the owners of Just Coal in early March and promised them a “political solution”, R500000 was transferred from the company’s Nedbank account to the ANCYL on March 14.
Youth league secretary-general Njabulo Nzuza also confirmed the “donation”.
He said: “We can confirm the donation of the 14th of March . . . the organisation receives donations meant to advance the cause of the organisation.”
Two ANCYL national executive committee members claimed the league had in fact been expecting R1-million from Just Coal. They accused Maine of using the league’s name for personal gain and said they suspected he had pocketed the other half.
“He is doing business deals using the name of the organisation. We were told there would be a donation of R1-million but only half reached our coffers,” said the leader.
Asked if the league was aware of such claims, Nzuza said: “We can’t account for donations that go to individuals.”
Maine said: “When you fundraise you don’t promise people or companies anything. I have no authority over Eskom. I can’t discuss its operations with anybody.”
The admission that Just Coal makes in its submission to parliament, including the payments of gratification, is also made in the company’s summons, which were served on Eskom on September 15.
In the summons Tshabangu repeated the allegation that Just Coal was “forced” to give gratification to certain unnamed individuals.
In April the company had asked Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown to intervene, because it believed the cancellation of its contracts was “a matter of personal agendas” by Koko “and other individuals”, he said.
“There were various issues that had arisen prior the cancellation of the contract . . . which informed [Just Coal] to make certain corrupt deals [or face the threat of] termination of the above contract,” Tshabangu said in court papers.
Department of Public Enterprises spokesman Colin Cruywagen refused to discuss the allegations.
The problems between Just Coal and Eskom started in October when the power utility’s head of security in the office of the CEO, Tebogo Rakau, opened a fraud case at the Sandton police station against Just Coal.
Rakau alleged that Just Coal was forging documents to pass off substandard coal.
However, Tshabangu, in Just Coal’s court application, said the company had met with the investigator in the case and was shown a blank docket.
Sandton police spokesman Captain Mohlaume Mamabolo said this week the case continued to be investigated by the special commercial crimes unit.
The Sunday Times understands that Eskom is investigating Just Coal after some employees confessed to being bribed by the coal company.
There were various issues that had arisen . . . which informed [Just Coal] to make certain corrupt deals [or face the threat of] termination of the contract Brandon Tshabangu Lawyer acting for Just Coal owner Joe Singh
ANC Youth League president Collen Maine