Stinging testimony makes damning allegations against Lynne Brown
IN AN unprecedented move, Eskom yesterday distanced itself from the testimony of board spokesperson Khulani Qoma and head of legal and compliance Suzanne Daniels in the ongoing parliamentary inquiry into Eskom.
Qoma was yesterday stinging in his testimony and made damning allegations against Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown, saying, among other things, that she took instructions from the Gupta brothers and blocked the suspension of former interim chief executive Matshela Koko.
In a frank testimony, Qoma took aim at Brown, the minister responsible for Eskom.
“The problem here is the minister. She is in the midst of water and yet says she is not wet. The minister will never be able to explain why she is in the midst of water and she is not wet.
“The fact of the matter is that if we deal with the respect of office, this minister needs to sit here and account. She is totally incompetent,” said Qoma.
He said Eskom acting board chairperson Zethembe Khoza had told him that Brown reported to the Gupta family.
He said Brown had also gone out of her way to protect now suspended executives Matshela Koko and Anoj Singh.
Qoma said when former Eskom chairperson Ben Ngubane was on the verge of suspending Koko earlier this year, Brown stepped in and halted the suspension. He said Brown had acted on the instructions of the Guptas.
Qoma said that he was shocked at Koko’s elevation to interim chief executive last year despite the controversies surrounding him.
He referred to an interview that Koko did with current affairs programme Carte Blanche in which he initially denied that Eskom had paid R586 million to Gupta-linked Tegeta Exploration and Resources only to admit when presented with a document which Koko had signed.
But the Eskom board took an unusual step and Eskom issued a statement in which it distanced itself from Qoma’s testimony.
Eskom chairperson Zethembe Khoza said that the manner in which Qoma spoke yesterday about Brown was not part of the Eskom culture.
“There have been several witnesses that have been called to give their testimonies, who have clearly represented their own interests at the expense of the organisation and the country at large. We understand that Eskom will be given an opportunity to make a formal presentation at the parliamentary inquiry, where it will give an honest, transparent and truthful account of events,” said Khoza.
Eskom’s statement came hours after Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and her Deputy Ben Martins yesterday criticised the parliamentary inquiry.
Brown said that “unless the parliamentary inquiry into alleg- ations of malfeasance at stateowned companies gives those who have been accused of wrongdoing the opportunity to explain their actions, it will serve no higher function than advancing political agendas and further undermining the economy.
“Few South Africans will disagree that strengthening governance at state-owned companies is a national imperative; the companies form the spine of our economy and their well-being is therefore inextricably linked to that of the country.
“The swirl of allegations that have enveloped them must be investigated and set right,” said Brown.
Martins also upped the ante in his efforts to dispute suspended Eskom head of legal and compliance Suzanne Daniels testimony at the inquiry last week.
Daniels alleged, among others, that Martins was part of a meeting in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg, at which Ajay Gupta said he would influence the dates for Brian Molefe’s pension payout court case.
Martins has denied being part of the meeting.
Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been accused of incompetence and acting on Gupta instructions.