Ques­tions for Gup­tas, Duduzane Zuma

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Siyabonga Mkhwanazi

THE GUPTA broth­ers, Ajay and Atul, and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, were among the first key wit­nesses iden­ti­fied by MPs to be ques­tioned in the in­quiry by Par­lia­ment into al­leged state cap­ture at Eskom.

Par­lia­ment warned yes­ter­day it could widen its probe into state cap­ture to in­clude all the State-owned En­ter­prises (SOEs), in­clud­ing Transnet and Denel, within the over­sight of the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on pub­lic en­ter­prises.

This fol­lowed MPs in the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee agree­ing to call Ajay and Atul Gupta and Dududzane Zuma to ex­plain their al­leged in­volve­ment in state cap­ture.

The act­ing chair­per­son of the com­mit­tee, Zuk­iswa Ran­tho, said the in­quiry, which would be­gin in Au­gust, would probe coal con­tracts at Eskom, in­clud­ing is­sues re­lated to the Tegeta and Op­ti­mum mines.

This fol­lowed a direc­tive by Par­lia­ment for the port­fo­lio com­mit­tees on Home Af­fairs, Pub­lic En­ter­prises, Trans­port com­mit­tee and Min­eral Re­sources to in­ves­ti­gate state cap­ture.

Ran­tho said they may call any wit­ness to give ev­i­dence be­cause the law al­lowed them to do so.

“The com­mit­tee may mon­i­tor, in­ves­ti­gate or in­quire of any or­gan of state. In this re­gard, the rules em­power the com­mit­tee to ini­ti­ate an in­quiry into Eskom,” she said.

Ran­tho said their work on Eskom would start in Au­gust.

How­ever, they will en­sure that all those im­pli­cated in the leaked e-mails, fin­gered in for­mer Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s state cap­ture re­port and other plat­forms were asked to at­tend the in­quiry and give ev­i­dence. Ran­tho said this would be ex­ten­sive work done by the com­mit­tee.

The com­mit­tee also agreed the in­quiry would look into pre­vi­ous in­ves­ti­ga­tions at Eskom.

The in­quiry is dif­fer­ent to that con­ducted by Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown, who has asked the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit to probe Eskom.

MPs said they would, among other things, also look into the Den­tons and Price­wa­ter­house­Coop­ers (PwC) re­ports into the prob­lems at Eskom.

The PwC re­port was re­cently tabled by the National Trea­sury to the stand­ing com­mit­tee on pub­lic ac­counts. It found ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties in the award­ing of R4 bil­lion in coal con­tracts to Tegeta in 2014.

The National Trea­sury has promised to con­clude its own in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Eskom.

Mondli Gun­gubele from the ANC said the is­sue of Brian Molefe was a symp­tom of what was to un­fold at Eskom.

Molefe has taken Brown to court to re­verse the de­ci­sion of the cabi­net to re­move him as chief ex­ec­u­tive.

Ran­tho said they wanted to clean up SOEs and were not on a witch-hunt. “From Au­gust we will in­clude the is­sue of the Gupta e-mail leaks. You may think the is­sue of Molefe is ir­rel­e­vant, but his re-ap­point­ment made us think about the gov­er­nance of the en­tity,” she said.

She said they will look at the ap­point­ment of board mem­bers in SOEs. This fol­lowed the e-mail leaks that the Gup­tas in­flu­enced the ap­point­ment of board ex­ec­u­tive and non-ex­ec­u­tive direc­tors.

Ran­tho said the National Trea­sury re­port into the coal con­tracts at Eskom had also found ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. She said there were many un­ex­plained de­ci­sions by Eskom and they wanted to get to the bot­tom of them.

PHOTO: REUTERS

An en­trance to the Op­ti­mum Kwagga coal mine in Mpumalanga in this file pic­ture. The for­mer Pub­lic Pro­tec­tor’s re­port has pro­vided some fairly damn­ing ev­i­dence about Gupta-owned Tegeta’s pur­chase of Op­ti­mum Coal Hold­ings.

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