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Just Coal now blames radio host for R500 000 donation 'misperceptions'

Sep 29 2017 21:14
Alex Mitchley

Pretoria – Just Coal CEO Joe Singh, who donated R500 000 to the ANC Youth League (ANCYL) and then said in a radio interview the money came with the expectation the firm would have a "politically-aligned" insider to "deal with" Eskom, has now backtracked on his statements. 

In a radio interview with 702 and CapeTalk host Eusebius McKaiser on Monday, Singh admitted he paid the money, saying that it was meant to influence Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko.

"Oh, we did have an expectation, that's for sure, you know, the expectation was that we have someone politically aligned that can deal with Koko because we believe that Koko is such a powerful person inside Eskom. He uses the might of Eskom to do anything he wants to do," Singh said.

On Friday Singh failed to arrive at a scheduled press conference to explain what he meant.

Instead, he sent his head of communications, Sisanda Nomusa Qwabe-Coutaud, as well as the company's attorney, Brandon Tshabangu, to read a statement and answer questions from the media.

Qwabe-Coutaud said Singh had "other commitments" to attend to.

'Selective' 

"The interview by McKaiser on 702, which was subsequently rebroadcasted on various media outlets, selectively describes events and pressured Mr Joe Singh into acknowledging statements he had not made," said Qwabe-Coutaud at the Burgers Park Hotel in Pretoria.

"It is unclear if this was motivated by ignorance, the desire for a sensational story, or a broader attempt to influence the ANC elective conference."

In response to a request for comment, Primedia Broadcasting- which owns 702 and Cape Talk - said the public should listen to the original audio and make up their own minds about what Singh meant. 

Earlier this week, Singh was hosted by McKaiser on his show to answer questions relating to a donation made by Singh's company, Just Coal, to the ANCYL and the company's expectations following the donation. 

Eskom had cancelled a R8bn contract with Just Coal, which the company says was unfair. Qwabe-Coutaud said on Friday that Just Coal was "naturally and rightfully" seeking to protect its investment, but that the company would never pay an individual or organisation to influence contracts. 

She added that the company's support for the ANCYL was "transparent" and claimed that Just Coal did not make donations to score political favours. 

'Interested in youth'

In the interview on Monday, Singh had said that the money given to the ANCYL because the youth league "obviously needs certain donations, and we are interested in the youth." 

"It's just that this time giving it to the ANCYL is they came and offered me that they can help me and I said okay fine, but I can only give money into your ANCYL account. We didn't give it to (any) person in their personal capacity, so I don't feel too bad about that," said Singh in the interview.

In defence of Singh's comments, Qwabe-Coutaud said that the company was expecting that ANCYL president Collen Maine would go and find out what the issue was with the Eskom contract.

"We had expectations to get answers on why exactly this whole thing was happening and these expectations were not based on the donation, we made the donation way before."

Qwabe-Coutaud also claimed the phone line was not clear when Singh did the radio interview and that he had even answered questions he hadn't been asked because of this.


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