Tsotsi cuts to the quick in inquiry into Eskom
PARLIAMENT this week came to grips with the extent of the Gupta family’s involvement in state-owned entities (SOEs) such as Eskom, with former board chairman Zola Tsotsi placing President Jacob Zuma and former SAA board chairperson, Dudu Myeni, at the centre of the shenanigans.
In his testimony, Tsotsi pulled no punches, explaining in detail how Myeni invited him to the presidential house in Durban in March 2015 and how Zuma ordered him to suspend former executives who included ex-chief executive, Tshediso Matona, finance director Tsholofelo Molefe, group executive for group capital, Dan Marokane, and suspended group executive for commercial, Matshela Koko.
According to Tsotsi, Tony Gupta played a central role in attempts to get lucrative Eskom contracts for the politically-connected family.
Tsotsi said Tony Gupta went to the extent of threatening to get him fired from the board if he did not oblige.
He accused Tsotsi of working with “baba’s enemies,”
Until Tsotsi’s bombshell this week, Zuma’s role had never been mentioned since the inquiry began.
Tsotsi’s evidence was corroborated further by the lawyer, Nick Linnell, who was present at the Durban meeting. Tsotsi said Myeni introduced Linnell to him as he had done some work for SAA, and he could lead the inquiry on the suspension of the executives.
Other former board members, including Venete Klein and Viroshni Naidoo, expressed shock when they discovered that Eskom had made a prepayment of R600 million to Tegeta to buy Optimum.
Klein said the money should have gone to business rescue practitioner Piers Marsden and not Tegeta.
They were also not aware of the R1.6 billion guarantee to Tegeta until it was disclosed
by suspended chief financial officer Anoj Singh, charging that the executives did not have the authority to approve that kind of amount, and there was a threshold that required the board’s decision.
But the exchanges between former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan and Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown put a spotlight on the intense conflict over state capture.
Members of the committee and evidence leader Advocate Ntuthuzelo Vanara grilled Brown for almost eight hours trying to get to the heart of state capture. Brown denied any links to the Guptas, or doing business with them. She also denied claims by Tsotsi that Salim Essa and Tony Gupta were at her house in Pretoria.
“There is a clear association between Minister Brown and the Gupta family,” Tsotsi said, adding that Essa gave him a list on board allocations.
Brown also denied claims that she had a hand in the suspension of the executives. She described Tsotsi as a liar. But Tsotsi stuck to his guns, arguing that she knew about the suspensions. Brown also took issue with the fact that Tsotsi did not bother to tell her about meeting Zuma in March.
Former Eskom board chairperson Zola Tsotsi appears before the Public Enterprises portfolio committee probing state capture.