Nowhere to hide for Guptas and ilk
IF NEXT month’s portfolio committee on public enterprises takes place as planned, it might well be the most well-watched parliamentary event since the State of the Nation Address.
The committee announced this week that it intended to call President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane and his employers, the Gupta brothers, to appear before it to give evidence into its investigation into Eskom’s deals with Gupta-linked companies.
The power utility has been at the centre of the state capture furore involving the Saxonwold family, confirmed and underlined almost daily by the revelations leaking from the trove of so-called “Gupta-leak” emails.
The allegations have been neither refuted nor disputed by any of the players mentioned, and certainly not by the president.
Though there will be no place for either the brothers or Duduzane to hide when they are summonsed to appear before a committee that, like much else of Parliament, has rediscovered its hunger for transparent and accountable governance.
Initially the committee wanted to probe the irregular and illogical reinstatement of controversial Eskom chief executive Brian Molefe, but this expanded to exploring the highly lucrative – and suspect – coal contracts between the utility and the Gupta-owned Tegeta coal mining company.
The contract, worth officially R4 billion over 10 years, but which could be almost double, was found by auditors PwC to be flawed, awarded without proper processes – and this is only one of several negative reports regarding the utility and its questionable business links to the Guptas.
It’s not just the standing committee which has found its teeth as a watchdog, Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has also discovered a new resolve, speaking openly about the allegations of maladministration and corruption dogging the utility. They might be unproven, but nonetheless they have undermined the public – and international – confidence, as have the broader slew of allegations about state capture.
Next month, for the first time yet, the alleged architects will be put under the spotlight.
We all want answers.