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Parliament's Eskom inquiry next week

Publish date: 12 October 2017
Issue Number: 4325
Diary: Legalbrief Today
Category: State capture

Parliament’s inquiry into Eskom is set to begin next Tuesday, it was announced yesterday, according to a Fin24 report. The Public Enterprises Committee decided that 'the names of the witnesses will not be publicised for security reasons'. In some instances, witnesses will give evidence in camera, and, in extreme cases, their identities will be disguised. The committee said, however, that the process of the inquiry would be made public.  Eskom expert, Professor Anton Eberhard, said the committee would likely make findings around ‘the manner in which the governance of SA’s state-owned electricity company has been undermined and re-purposed to materially benefit a politically-connected elite, while compromising national economic and social development’. Business Day points out the inquiry will look into state capture and the abuse of public resources‚ particularly at Eskom, and will have an experienced legal practitioner as an evidence leader, as was the case with the SABC inquiry.

Full Fin24 report

Witnesses will be called from 17 October, acting committee chairperson Zukiswa Rantho is quoted as saying by Business Day. ‘The committee is busy with the process of interacting with the witnesses to give them enough time to prepare for the inquiry,’ she said. In July, notes the report, Rantho gave the assurance that the three Gupta brothers and President Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane Zuma would be called as witnesses. DA MP and public enterprises spokesperson Natasha Mazzone, who was part of the committee meeting yesterday, confirmed that the Guptas and Duduzane were expected to appear before the inquiry. The committee had powers to subpoena and witnesses called had to attend, Mazzone said. Of importance was the protection of whistle-blowers, some of whom had contacted evidence leader Ntuthuzelo Vanara expressing their concern about testifying. Mazzone said the committee was taking their security ‘very seriously’. The inquiry’s terms of reference include the re-appointment of Brian Molefe as group CEO of Eskom, the power utility’s role in the purchase of Optimum Coal Holdings by Gupta-owned Tegeta Exploration and Resources, the awarding of about R11.7bn worth of coal supply contracts – at inflated prices – to Tegeta, the R43m contract with the Guptas’ The New Age media firm, payments of more than R400m to Trillian Capital Partners for consulting and advisory services and allegations of impropriety against former acting CEO Matshela Koko, who is on suspension. Witnesses initially identified include Molefe, Koko and Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh.

Full Business Day report