Parliament’s Public Enterprises Committee has unanimously adopted the report on the inquiry into governance failures at Eskom. The report recommends that some of the power utility’s former top executives and board members be asked to appear before the Zondo Commission of Inquiry.
The report also contains some scathing remarks on the tenure of former Public Enterprises Ministers Malusi Gigaba and Lynn Brown, especially relating to the appointment of board members. The committee has recommended that the Zondo Commission should call ten witnesses, all former leaders at the power utility who presented conflicting evidence before it.
It wants these witnesses to shed more light on state capture allegations at Eskom during their tenure.
They include former board chairpersons Zola Tsotsi and Ben Ngubane, former interim chairperson Zethembe Khoza, former Chief Executive Officer Brian Molefe, former Chief Financial Officer Anoj Singh, former acting Chief Executive Officers, Sean Maritz, Matshela Koko as well as other former board members.
“Because the committee was going through an inquisitorial inquiry the committee did not accuse any person. The committee has got findings that say these should go for further investigations by institutions that do the investigations so I think because we did not accuse anybody we can adopt it and present it to Parliament,” says Chairperson of the inquiry Zukiswa Rantho.
The committee also recommends that board members, who frustrated its efforts of accessing documents, must be held criminally accountable. It wants Speaker Baleka Mbete to refer this to relevant authorities. It says this must be done within 60 day after the adoption of the report.
“There is no one that can say that we have not given people the necessary time to respond to allegations, that was not our concern and it was not our role in doing an inquiry in Parliament in terms of oversight, we simply conducted oversight. We did not conduct a hearing, this was not a judicial hearing,” says DA’s spokesperson on Public Enterprises Natasha Mazzone.
The report also found that there was a corrupt relationship between the Gupta family, their associates and key state functionaries. It has listed among others Salim Essa, Tony, Atul and Ajay Gupta as well as Duduzane Zuma as external persons who might have had an unduly influence on key Eskom decisions.
The report says failure to exercise oversight has allowed private interests to benefit unduly from business with Eskom over the past decade. EFF MP Thembinkosi Rawula says there is room for further investigation. “The inquiry was not exhaustive the Zondo Commission is basically taking forward the work of the committee so it is only fair that we report to Parliament and indicate how far we have gone and anyone who feels that for some reasons he might not have come to the committee can go to the Zondo Commission as the work is complementary.”
The report also made observations on the appointment of board members by former Ministers Malusi Gigaba and Lynn Brown. It raises concerns about the vetting of board members appointed during their tenure. It says Brown exercised inadequate oversight on the board and executive directors and that led to gross breaches in fiduciary duties. African Christian Democratic Party Member of Parliament Steve Swart says he is satisfied with the approach the committee took.
“Once it is passed through the national assembly it will emphasise the part that these witnesses identified here will be requested to appear before the Zondo Commission to shed more light on the allegations of corruption, they will be to clear their names if necessary.”
Inkatha Freedom Party Chief Whip Narend Singh wants the report to reflect that they could not deal with other state owned companies as planned. “ We also agreed that we will look at Transnet and Denel and we had captured that in one of the interim report and it’s not on this from what I’ve read, if it not here may be we need to say that we intended to inquire into Denel and Transnet and we couldn’t do that .”
The report also recommends that the Special Investigating Unit, National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks and South African Police Service should investigate possible fraud and corruption charges relating to certain contracts. The report will be tabled before the National Assembly.
The committee recommends that once it is approved by the National Assembly, the report together with all other records be submitted to the Zondo Commission.
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