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Brown wants state capture inquiry to go ahead

Mar 08 2017 12:45
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said on Wednesday that she believes President Jacob Zuma should proceed with an inquiry as recommended by former public protector Thuli Madonsela.

Brown was addressing Parliament on the performances and challenges of state-owned companies (SOCs) under her portfolio.

Madonsela’s State of Capture report questioned former Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s conduct with regards to Eskom’s coal procurement contract with Optimum Coal Mine, which was bought by Gupta-owned Tegeta Resources and Energy in 2016.

Madonsela's report mentioned that Molefe's cellphone records showed he was in Saxonwold on a number of occasions, suggesting he may have been having meetings with the controversial Gupta family at their residence.

Molefe denied the allegation, controversially referring to a fictitious Saxonworld shebeen before eventually resigning over the report. He was recently sworn in as a Member of Parliament.

“I personally believe that there should be an inquiry,” said Brown. “It is the only way to be able to put matters on the table. It has to happen.”

However, she said it is the prerogative of the president and has been put before a review.

In December 2016, Zuma approached the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria to review and set aside the remedial action recommendations of the State of Capture report.

Zuma challenged the recommendation that a commission of inquiry be established, saying it "violates the rule of law (in) that it is inconsistent with the Constitution and breaches the separation of powers principle".

Before the report came out, Brown wrote to all board members of SOCs under her portfolio to encourage them to find out if they had any conflict of interest and to make a decision about whether they should remain on their respective boards.

“In that process, four people resigned,” she said.

On Wednesday, Brown recommended that Eskom should table in Parliament two internal inquiries into Eskom: the 2015 Dentons report, as well as the 2008 Deloitte report.

The reports followed internal inquiries into financial, operational and contractual issues that Eskom faced. The two inquiries occurred after Eskom plunged the country into load shedding, first in 2008 and again in 2014/2015.

Brown also said National Treasury’s investigation into Eskom’s procurement process was due to be completed in January 2017, but that she is still awaiting the report.  

The Dentons report on Eskom sheds light on shocking financial abuses and identified serious cause for concern regarding the manner in which Eskom awarded contracts for the supply of diesel and coal, among other shortcomings.

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