Tegeta fine ‘an Eskom is­sue’

Min­is­ter Brown ducks is­sue

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Siseko Njobeni

PUB­LIC En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown has de­flected back to Eskom al­le­ga­tions that the util­ity had slashed the R2.1bil­lion it was sup­posed to re­cover from Tegeta Ex­plo­ration and Re­sources to R500mil­lion.

When Tegeta, a com­pany owned by the Gutpa fam­ily and Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma’s son, Duduzane, ac­quired Op­ti­mum Coal Mine from Glen­core in April 2016, Eskom had im­posed the R2.1bn fine on Op­ti­mum for poor qual­ity coal. Tegeta sup­plies coal to Eskom’s Arnot power sta­tion. It has since emerged that Eskom and Glen­core have reached an agree­ment.

Brown would not re­spond to al­le­ga­tions that Eskom and Tegeta had slashed the fine to R500m. “I am afraid I do not run Eskom,” she said, re­fer­ring the ques­tions to Eskom le­gal and com­pli­ance act­ing head Suzanne Daniels.

Daniels con­firmed that Eskom and Tegeta had con­cluded an ar­bi­tra­tion process.

“There was an agree­ment en­tered into,” Daniels said. But she re­fused to dis­close the de­tails of the agree­ment, cit­ing a con­fi­den­tial­ity clause. The set­tle­ment of the fine marks a change of at­ti­tude be­cause the power util­ity, through for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive Brian Molefe, was pre­vi­ously adamant that the penalty had to be set­tled.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive Mat­shela Koko, Brown said she was wait­ing for the board to act on the mat­ter and has had the re­port for a week.

The Eskom board ear­lier this year en­listed the ser­vices law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr to con­duct a foren­sic and le­gal in­ves­ti­ga­tion fol­low­ing al­le­ga­tions that Koko’s step­daugh­ter scored con­tracts worth R1bn from the paras­tatal.

“The board will tell me what they in­tend to do. It is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the board. It has to write to me to tell me what action they are tak­ing. The board will make a de­ci­sion on whether it will be open. I want to deal with this mat­ter as speed­ily as we can. The board must write to me and tell me what they want to do and I will re­spond to the board. Then we will re­spond in the pub­lic space.

“The mat­ter is in the pub­lic in­ter­est. I do not want to give you a half-baked story here,” she said.

Speak­ing shortly af­ter Eskom’s gen­eral meet­ing, Brown an­nounced four new mem­bers of the Eskom board. They are Pu­lane Molok­wane, Sim­phiwe Din­gaan, Ban­oth­ile Makhubela and Sathi­asee­lan Gounden.

Brown said she had reap­pointed Khoza, Pat Naidoo and Gio­vanni Leonardi to the board. She has, how­ever, not reap­pointed Ch­wayita Mabude.

Brown said the new board mem­bers had gone through an ex­ten­sive se­lec­tion process. She said af­ter re­ceiv­ing the names for the board po­si­tions, the Depart­ment of Pub­lic En­ter­prises drew up a short­list of the best qual­i­fied can­di­dates.

Shor­tish list

“They then bring me a shor­tish list… about 15 or 20 names. Out of that, we then put the ma­trix of the cri­te­ria. We then put to­gether a short­list that goes to the ANC de­ploy­ment com­mit­tee and af­ter that it goes to the eco­nomic clus­ter in the cabi­net and then it goes to the cabi­net,” she said.

Brown said the cabi­net was yet to ap­prove the names of the in­terim board mem­bers. It had taken long to ap­point Johnny Dladla as act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive be­cause of the com­plex na­ture of the se­lec­tion process.

Many of the Eskom ex­ec­u­tives had ap­plied for the po­si­tion be­fore Molefe made a brief but con­tro­ver­sial re­turn.

Af­ter Molefe’s lat­est de­par­ture from the util­ity at the end of last month, Brown said she would an­nounce an in­terim chief ex­ec­u­tive within 48 hours.

“I wanted to give South Africa some­body who was not con­flicted by hav­ing ap­plied for the job and that has not been named in any way… in any news­pa­per or any­thing like that. I think I have made a very good choice. I also wanted some­body who could also run a com­pany,” Brown said.

Com­ment­ing on the res­ig­na­tion of for­mer Eskom chair­per­son Ben Ngubane and the rea­sons for him leav­ing, Brown said: “Ngubane said his rea­sons were per­sonal.”

PHOTO: LEON LESTRADE

Lynne Brown said “the (Eskom) board will tell me what they in­tend to do. It is an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the board.”

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