Business Day

Eskom skirts around ‘the rot’

- Stephan Hofstatter and Sikonathi Mantshants­ha

Eskom has ignored legal advice to charge senior officials in the scandal involving suspect payments totalling R1.6bn to global consultanc­y McKinsey and Gupta-linked Trillian in a selective disciplina­ry process insiders say is designed to fail.

This has sparked fear that Eskom’s senior leadership, led by acting CEO Johnny Dladla, is more concerned with damagecont­rol than rooting out the rot.

Dladla himself has been implicated in the suspect deals with McKinsey and Trillian, but is not facing any sanction. In 2015, Dladla attended at least two of the meetings that selected the consulting firms.

Business Day has learned of a memo circulated among senior management on September 8, recommendi­ng the suspension of seven senior Eskom officials over the Trillian and McKinsey payments following an investigat­ion by law firm Bowmans.

Bowmans recommende­d suspending and disciplini­ng former acting CEO Matshela Koko, who is already on suspension in

an unrelated matter; chief financial officer Anoj Singh; chief procuremen­t officer Edwin Mabelane; acting head of group capital Prish Govender; senior procuremen­t official Charles Kalima; senior commercial manager Dave Gorrie; and Maya Bhana-Naidoo, a GM in Anoj Singh’s office.

It is understood Bowmans drafted a notice of motion a month ago to launch legal proceeding­s against McKinsey and Trillian to have the contracts set aside but the legal process has ground to a halt.

Last week, Eskom reluctantl­y converted Singh’s “special leave” into a suspension. It is understood charge sheets were prepared for Kalima, Govender and former head of procuremen­t Edwin Mabelane, but suspension letters had not been handed to them by Friday.

Eskom has, however, let Bhana and Gorrie off the hook. Dladla ignored questions on why he appeared to be protecting Gorrie and Bhana-Naidoo. Gorrie declined to comment and Bhana-Naidoo did not respond to a request for comment.

According to an interim report by Bowmans seen by Business Day, Bhana-Naidoo as GM in the chief financial officer’s office, processed payments for two Trillian invoices totalling R235m in August 2016 without proper supporting documents.

On Sunday, the utility said: “Eskom is in the process of obtaining legal advice to enable it to take steps to recover any amounts spent irregularl­y with third-party suppliers.

“Eskom has taken disciplina­ry action against individual­s regardless of the positions they hold,” spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said.

Eskom had launched an investigat­ion into the allegation­s of impropriet­y by some of its senior managers and disciplina­ry action was initiated against those against whom evidence of misconduct existed.

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