Former Eskom chair Zola Tsotsi has confirmed to the State Capture Commission that he first met the Gupta brothers at the home of former Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown. The then minister had requested a meeting to discuss the allocation of newly appointed Eskom board members to different sub committees.

Gupta associate, Salim Essa, then called Tsotsi and told him that he had already drawn up a list of board allocations which the chair should email to the minister. Tsotsi says he dismissed the call only to be called into another meeting where the minister instructed him to make the appointments according to Essa’s list.

He says he found this disturbing.

“Mr Essa drew my attention to a selection of board members into various committees, which he had done and he then asked me and he said I have look at it and pass it on to the minister. I was taken aback around this because I didn’t understand what his role was and why he was involved in this. And then I proceeded to do this based on the way I thought it should be done.”

Tsotsi says he later met the minister at her residence where she instructed him to follow Essa’s list. He says Tony Gupta and his brother Atul together with Essa were present at the meeting.

“I didn’t spend more than two-three minutes. In fact, I didn’t even sit down; the minister simply indicated to me that I must still proceed on the basis of what she had indicated to me in terms of the allocations of the board members into the different sub committees of the board. I didn’t say much; I just said I’ve seen what you have said back to me and that’s what we will proceed to do.”

Tsotsi says he was strong armed into appointing Collin Matjila as acting CEO in 2014. Matjila’s six months in office was marred by allegations that he had broken Eskom’s procurement rules to conclude deals with Gupta-owned or aligned firms.

Tsotsi says then Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba was initially happy with the board’s choice of a candidate for the acting CEO position.

“The view of the board took was that, first of all, we should not have any of the board members acting as chief executive and the decision was that the board would ask one of the executives to avail themselves to act in that period. I met with the minister and he was quite content and happy that Steven should act.”

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