“This mess would not have been pos­si­ble if she were a ca­pa­ble min­is­ter”

The Times (South Africa) - - Front Page - By BIANCA CA­PA­ZO­RIO

● It’s a kan­ga­roo court!

This was how Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Lynne Brown re­acted to hu­mil­i­at­ing crit­i­cism of her ethics and abil­ity voiced dur­ing par­lia­ment’s state cap­ture in­quiry on Tues­day.

Eskom board spokesman Khu­lani Qoma did not mince his words.

“She lies all the time,” he said of the min­is­ter. She is an “atro­cious min­is­ter”.

Qoma told the pub­lic en­ter­prises com­mit­tee’s in­quiry that Brown was sur­rounded by “cap­tured” in­di­vid­u­als but con­tended that she her­self was not.

“Min­is­ter Brown has gone to the end of the world telling us she is not wet, but she is right in the midst of wa­ter. Her DG is cap­tured, her PA is cap­tured, ob­vi­ously her lover has in­ter­ests at Eskom ...

“Min­is­ter Brown lies, she lies all the time and she thinks we can’t see it.”

At the end of the day Brown is­sued a state­ment in which she said that the state cap­ture in­quiry ran the risk of serv­ing no “higher func­tion than ad­vanc­ing po­lit­i­cal agen­das and fur­ther un­der­min­ing the econ­omy”.

“… the in­quiry takes the form of a kan­ga­roo court in­tent on reach­ing pre­de­ter­mined out­comes,” she said.

Qoma told the in­quiry: “The prob­lem here is the min­is­ter. This min­is­ter needs to sit here and ac­count be­cause this mess would not have been pos­si­ble if she were a ca­pa­ble min­is­ter. She’s to­tally in­ca­pable; there’s no doubt about that.”

He said that ear­lier this year, fol­low­ing se­vere dam­age to Eskom’s cor­po­rate im­age, for­mer board chair­man Ben Ngubane “came close to sus­pend­ing act­ing CEO Mat­shela Koko” but was stopped at the 11th hour by Brown.

Qoma told the com­mit­tee that Koko had been called back to Eskom and Ngubane had con­vened a board meet­ing to dis­cuss his sus­pen­sion.

How­ever, “Mr [Zethembe] Khoza told me that he sneaked out and made a call to a ‘G-brother’ — which I un­der­stood to mean a Gupta brother”.

He said the Gup­tas had con­tacted Brown, who called Ngubane and halted the sus­pen­sion.

Qoma said Khoza had told him that “min­is­ter Brown is cap­tured” and that four new board mem­bers would be ap­pointed by the Gup­tas.

Qoma was head-hunted by mem­bers of the Eskom board last year in a bid to deal with “rep­u­ta­tional is­sues” that had arisen for the most part from then pub­lic pro­tec­tor Thuli Madon­sela’s State of Cap­ture re­port.

Qoma told the com­mit­tee that Ngubane had at­tempted to bring for­mer ANC spokesman Carl Niehaus on board to help with cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions but, Qoma said, this did not make busi­ness sense.

He said that be­fore he had started work at Eskom Koko had ap­peared on the Carte Blanche TV pro­gramme and had “to­tally lied” about the Eskom pre-pay­ment to Tegeta that en­abled it to buy the Op­ti­mum coal mine.

“The min­is­ter ap­pointed Koko af­ter he lied on Carte Blanche. She brought [Brian] Molefe and Anoj [Singh].”

He said Koko, to­gether with CFO Singh KHU­LANI QOMA Eskom board spokesman “were eat­ing the en­tire as­set of the state faster than you can imag­ine”.

Qoma later penned a re­port about the rep­u­ta­tional dam­age at Eskom in which he sug­gested that Koko be re­moved.

He said Brown had re­peat­edly been lied to, and had mis­led par­lia­ment as a re­sult, but she did lit­tle against those who “caused her to lie”.

Brown said in a state­ment is­sued af­ter the hear­ing: “Un­less the par­lia­men­tary in­quiry into al­le­ga­tions of malfea­sance at state-owned 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 well­be­ing is there­fore in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked to that of the coun­try. The swirl of al­le­ga­tions that has en­veloped them must be in­ves­ti­gated and set right.”

On the tes­ti­mony given the com­mit­tee, she said: “I do not take in­struc­tions from any­one.” She said Eskom of­fi­cials had “in­ten­tion­ally mis­led” her about the util­ity’s deal­ings with con­sul­tancy Tril­lian.

Deputy Pub­lic En­ter­prises Min­is­ter Ben Martins has also ob­jected to the way in which the hear­ings are be­ing run.

He said Brown had writ­ten three let­ters re­gard­ing the in­quiry, rais­ing pro­ce­dural is­sues in­clud­ing “the ev­i­dence leader’s con­flicted role” and his “fail­ure to act eth­i­cally”.

Ev­i­dence leader Nthuthuzelo Va­nara was crit­i­cised for al­low­ing tes­ti­mony with­out warn­ing those im­pli­cated by it, thereby “vi­o­lat­ing their hu­man dig­nity”.

Pic­ture: ESA ALEXAN­DER

BLOOD­IED AND BRUISED Min­is­ter of Pub­lic En­ter­prises, Lynne Brown

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