Name-cleansing attempt brings rot to light
AS PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma dithers about the establishment of a commission of inquiry into state capture, it has been left to the parliamentary inquiry into Eskom to lay bare to the public gaze sordid details of governance failures, corruption, maladministration and machinations at the power utility.
While suspended legal and compliance head Suzanne Daniels’s testimony was explosive, it was Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins’s attempt to clear his name that pointed to more rot in state-owned enterprises.
Daniels told the inquiry that Martins was part of a meeting at which Ajay Gupta tried to influence the dates of Brian Molefe’s court case on his controversial pension pay-out.
Martins said he had not been part of the meeting and branded Daniels a liar.
In the process of clearing his name, Martins inadvertently let slip how, during his reign as transport minister, Tony Gupta, the youngest of the Gupta brothers, had tried to influence leadership changes at the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa).
According to Martins, former Prasa chief executive Lucky Montana was concerned that the Guptas wanted to remove him – and LET IT SLIP: Minister of Transport Ben Martins spilled the beans on Tony Gupta. then-board chairperson and current Deputy Finance Minister Sfiso Buthelezi.
In response, Martins had invited Tony Gupta and Montana to his official residence in Tshwane.
He did not elaborate why he had felt the need to discuss Prasa leadership with Tony Gupta.
On Thursday, Montana dropped a bombshell, contradicting Martins in a series of tweets. It turns out, at least according to Montana, that Zuma’s son Duduzane came to the meeting in the company of Tony Gupta.
Montana said he had not been aware that Tony Gupta and Duduzane were going to be part of the meeting.
“For the record, I never knew nor met any Gupta until invited by Martins at his official residence,” said Montana, effectively saying Martins had introduced him to the Guptas.
In recent years, Eskom’s shenanigans have ruined careers.
Tsediso Matona’s brief stay as chief executive is just but one. After joining Eskom in October 2014, he was suspended in March 2015.
The board, under Zola Tsotsi at the time, said there was an impending inquiry which would zoom into the utility’s delays in bringing the new generation plant on-stream, high costs of primary energy and Eskom’s cash flow problems.
Matona was suspended with former finance director Tsholofelo Molefe, group capital head Dan Marokane and former commercial and technology head Matshela Koko.
Matona, Marokane and Molefe reached settlement agreements with Eskom.
In his testimony this week, Matona spoke of fear and tension that had gripped the power utility during his tenure there. This was at a time when Eskom was grappling with load shedding, a maintenance backlog and financial problems.
Last month another former Eskom chief executive, Brian Dames, told the inquiry of the Eskom board’s involvement in procurement.
Molefe was more stinging, charging that during Tsotsi’s time, there was disregard for procurement processes.
“Zola Tsotsi indicated that we are wasting time with long-winded procurement processes. (This) suggested to me that he had no regard for those procurement regulations,” she said.