Nowhere to hide for Gup­tas and ilk

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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.

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