Tsotsi cuts to the quick in in­quiry into Eskom

Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition) - - SPORT - Siyabonga Mkhwanaziku

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.

PHOTO: HENK KRUGER/ANA

For­mer Eskom board chair­per­son Zola Tsotsi ap­pears be­fore the Pub­lic En­ter­prises port­fo­lio com­mit­tee prob­ing state cap­ture.

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