Brown is a liar, she lies all the time, MPs told

The Star Early Edition - - FRONT PAGE - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI

THE par­lia­men­tary probe into state cap­ture yes­ter­day took yet an­other dra­matic turn when Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown was ac­cused by an Eskom of­fi­cial of be­ing a liar.

For her part, Brown has promised that those who lied to her about R600 mil­lion paid to Gupta-linked com­pany Tril­lian would be charged at Eskom.

Brown’s state­ment came af­ter Eskom spokesper­son Khu­lani Qoma tore into her char­ac­ter.

She said Par­lia­ment must level the play­ing field by giv­ing all sides a plat­form to re­spond to the al­le­ga­tions.

“By fail­ing to subscribe to fun­da­men­tal con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­ples such as af­ford­ing peo­ple the right to re­ply – or to dis­tin­guish be­tween hearsay and fac­tual ev­i­dence – the in­quiry takes the form of a kan­ga­roo court, in­tent on reach­ing pre­de­ter­mined out­comes,” said Brown.

“In con­clu­sion, let me state un­equiv­o­cally that I do not take in­struc­tions from any­body. If truth be told, Eskom of­fi­cials in­ten­tion­ally mis­led me on the Tril­lian mat­ter and the act­ing chair­per­son (Zethembe Khoza) has as­sured me that those re­spon­si­ble will be charged by the util­ity,” said Brown.

Her sen­ti­ments came af­ter Qoma ac­cused her of ly­ing and be­ing part of the con­tin­u­ing woes plagu­ing the power util­ity.

Qoma’s at­tack on Brown came a day af­ter Eskom ad­mit­ted that it was broke and needed bil­lions of rand to get out of fi­nan­cial trou­ble.

Eskom said it has R1.2 bil­lion left in its re­serves af­ter it used up R20bn in the re­serves.

Qoma ac­cused Brown of ly­ing “all the time” and ar­gued that the min­is­ter lied in Par­lia­ment in a writ­ten re­ply that Tril­lian was not paid a cent by Eskom.

The re­sponse (by Brown) was pre­pared by sus­pended chief fi­nan­cial of­fi­cer Anoj Singh, Qoma said.

“Brown has gone to the end of the world that she is not wet, yet she is in the midst of wa­ter,” said Qoma.

He called on Brown to ac­count for her di­rect im­pli­ca­tion in state cap­ture.

“Min­is­ter Brown lies and she lies all the time,” he said.

Brown had failed to re­cruit board mem­bers from JSE-listed com­pa­nies, but got them from “nowhere” with no skills, Qoma said.

He also de­scribed state cap­ture as a scheme that the coun­try woke up to too late to act upon.

“It was a scheme not with a lot of brains be­hind it, be­cause we are un­tan­gling it now. I think we woke up too late to it,” said Qoma.

Deputy Min­is­ter of Pub­lic En­ter­prises Ben Martins joined Brown yes­ter­day in slam­ming the in­quiry, say­ing it was un­fair.

Martins said the in­quiry had not given them an op­por­tu­nity to re­spond to the al­le­ga­tions made by sev­eral wit­nesses.

Martins de­nied he was with the Gup­tas, Duduzane Zuma and Salim Essa in July in Mel­rose Arch, Joburg, as claimed by the sus­pended head of le­gal ser­vices at Eskom, Suzanne Daniels.

Martins said that on that day he at­tended the fu­neral ser­vice of gov­ern­ment spokesper­son Ron­nie Mamoepa in Pre­to­ria be­fore he went to the ANC na­tional ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee lek­gotla later that day.

In a state­ment, the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee on pub­lic en­ter­prises said it would pro­vide all im­pli­cated par­ties an op­por­tu­nity to re­spond to the claims made against them.

The in­quiry has pit­ted Martins against his com­rade, for­mer Pas­sen­ger Rail Agency of South Africa chief ex­ec­u­tive Lucky Mon­tana, over the Gup­tas.

Mon­tana re­cently de­nied that he brought Tony Gupta to a meet­ing with Martins when he was trans­port min­is­ter.

Martins had told a me­dia brief­ing in Par­lia­ment ear­lier that he met the Gup­tas three or four times, and on one oc­ca­sion Ra­jesh “Tony” Gupta came to his min­is­te­rial house in Pre­to­ria with Mon­tana to dis­cuss Prasa mat­ters.

This re­lated to the de­mand by the Gup­tas for the re­moval of Mon­tana and then Prasa chair­per­son Sfiso Buthelezi from Prasa. Buthelezi is now the deputy min­is­ter of fi­nance.

Mon­tana de­nied know­ing Ra­jesh Gupta.

LASHED OUT: Min­is­ter Lynne Brown

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