There was high drama at the Eskom Inquiry on Wednesday morning. First was the announcement that Deputy Public Enterprises Minister Ben Martins would not appear; then there were two letters from Ajay Gupta’s lawyers.
The announcement that the Hawks were fishing for information about the inquiry chairperson caused quite a stir while the Acting Eskom board chairperson faced serious questioning.
Following explosive revelations by former Eskom Company Secretary Suzanne Daniels that she had met Deputy Minister Martins along with Ajay Gupta in Melrose Arch in July, Martins lambasted the committee for not informing him that he would be mentioned.
He then expressed a wish to appear before the inquiry.
However, now it appears that Martins will be the first person to be subpoenaed by the committee. This follows his dramatic turnaround and refusal to present himself for cross-questioning. Instead of arriving for the inquiry, he sent a letter informing the committee that he does not see a reason to be there.
Inquiry Chairperson Zukiswa Rantho read a part of the letter: “The written submission adequately addresses I am required to attest to. As a result, it is unnecessary for me to appear before the committee as I am responding to the committee in writing. Please find attached my submission. I also reserve my rights to seek legal recourse in this regard.”
Members felt insulted, especially since Martins is a Member of Parliament.
Democratic Alliance’s Natasha Mazzone says he has to be compelled to come.
The chairperson announced the arrival of two letters from people who claim to be legal representatives of Ajay Gupta. He too claims Suzanne Daniels had lied about him. He says he was not even in the country at the time stated by Daniels. Rantho read the letter to the committee.
While members are keen to have the Guptas appear before them, there were questions about the authenticity of the letters since they were not signed.
Members pointed out that this could be an attempt to take their focus away from the inquiry and resolved to deal with such letters administratively next time.
“What this letter is doing is an attempt to disrupt our work, to divert us, make us attend to these letters. One day we will spent the whole day reading letters of someone who is sitting somewhere having coffee,” said ANC MP Mondli Gungubele.
Then came the news from Rantho that the Hawks were in the committee.
“I have already lost my focus because I am told that there are Hawks here looking for my details. I don’t know what type of Hawks are those that come to a committee of Parliament and ask for that.”
After all the drama, it was time for Acting Eskom Board Chairperson Zethembe Khoza to face members after a four hour grilling by evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara on Tuesday.
Members became frustrated when Khoza seemed to have little knowledge of what is happening in the company.
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