Former Public Enterprise Minister, Lynne Brown, says Eskom had R180 million debt when she took over the portfolio in 2014 and by the time she was sacked it had ballooned to R260 billion.

Brown, who is appearing before the Commission of Inquiry Into State Capture for the first time, says when she was appointed Minister, Eskom had failed to keep the lights on for six years and was spending a lot of money on diesel. She says the power utility had no maintenance plan.

“Eskom was in dire financial strain, in terms of load shedding and I think I was called the minister of load shedding even though I had other portfolios. I was called the minister of load-shedding, it’s nothing compared to what is happening at the moment. Nobody is blamed for the load shedding at the moment and I just want you to reflect on that. The public sentiment against the company was very, very high and that was just when I came into the company,” says Brown.

Earlier, Brown said she retired from politics because there were, what she termed, unprecedented attacks on her family and friends.

Brown was appointed by former president Jacob Zuma in 2014.

She told the commission’s chairperson Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo that she was determined to clear her name.

“The chairperson has to make a decision on whether I was part of capturing the state and capturing the state was whether I was part of the Gupta’s, the president and all of that. But that wasn’t the worst part of the attacks I think the attacks came to where it actually dealt with personal matters and dealt with people who had absolutely nothing to do with my personal work,” says Brown.

Brown’s testimony in the video below:

Brown has blamed the complex governance structures of most state-owned entities as the main reason why they fail. She says procurement for instance in many SOEs is completely decentralised.

She was responding to questions from Zondo on why numerous SOEs fail despite having oversight bodies. Zondo also pointed out the lack of proper oversight has enabled corruption to take root in most SOEs.