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Dentons: Eskom board defends Koko, DA mulls court action

Feb 09 2017 16:43
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – The Eskom board on Thursday defended its acting chief executive Matshela Koko following a report in Financial Mail revealed a possible cover up, while the Democratic Alliance said it is considering legal action against implicated officials.

While Eskom has provided News24 with its redacted final Dentons report following an audit into “the status of the business and challenges experienced by Eskom”, the Financial Mail revealed information in previous iterations of the report that had been removed in what it termed a “cover up”.

READ: Eskom Dentons report shows serious breaches

Apart from revealing information from previous versions of the report, Financial Mail deputy editor Sikonathi Mantshantsha “conducted numerous interviews with six current and former Eskom board members and executives, who spoke on condition of anonymity”.

He reported that “Koko’s name featured prominently” and that one of the above sources claimed: “The wrong person came back to work, while those who did not need to be suspended never came back.”

READ: Much more to Dentons report than Eskom revealed

However, Eskom board spokesperson Khulani Qoma told Fin24 that “nothing pointed to his (Koko’s) wrongdoing in the report”.

“While the other executives left of their own free will; Mr Matshela Koko had decided to see his suspension through,” said Qoma.

Koko had been suspended in 2015 along with (at the time) CEO Tshediso Matona, finance director Tsholofelo Molefe and group capital executive Dan Marokane.

“Nothing competently explains Mr Koko’s profound contribution to Eskom than the fact that he has been asked to act in the role of the group chief executive,” said Qoma.

“The Financial Mail article is severely challenged by the fact that it is based on an illegitimate document.

“As stated by Dentons earlier this week, the allegations contained in the preliminary draft report were uncorroborated by evidence, resulting in their exclusion in the final report.

“This is a common and a generally accepted practice across the globe. It is therefore unfair to cast aspersions on Mr Koko based on a report which has no authoritative legal status.

“The Financial Mail’s story is based on the same preliminary draft report, which Dentons has rejected,” said Qoma. “The story’s legitimacy is therefore roundly refuted and debunked by Eskom.

“It is not only a gratuitous insult to Eskom, but to Dentons too, to suggest that the final report was ‘sanitised’ or ‘censored’ to achieve an undignified outcome.

“While Dentons were our client, at a time, they owe their allegiance to their code of practice. As stated by Dentons earlier this week, at no point did Eskom, through chairman or any member of the board, seek to interfere with their fact-finding work.”

READ: 10 things in Dentons report Eskom has kept hidden

Meanwhile, DA Public Enterprises spokesperson Natasha Mazzone said that the DA is “considering legal action against implicated officials to ensure that they are held accountable for their gross abuse of public funds”.

“The DA will not rest until the full and uncensored version of the report is released. Only then can we hope to hold those responsible to account,” the member of Parliament said in a statement on Thursday.

She said the DA will on Thursday submit an appeal, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act, to gain access to the full, original and unredacted Dentons report.

“It is a slap in the face of the South African public, who foot the bill for Eskom, that the Dentons report released yesterday, is still heavily redacted.

“What is clear from the report is that Eskom management have much to hide and explains why they have sought to keep it from the public.”

She said that despite the redactions, Eskom’s final Dentons report, which the DA also received, show details of extensive abuse of public funds. These include:

• Evidence that Eskom breached the Public Finance Management Act, 1999, and in so doing “contributed to its own financial challenges”;

• Contracts, worth R30bn, were awarded to companies which had no real standing in the industry;

• Eskom employees allegedly set up companies which were then awarded contracts from Eskom;

• Eskom executives and senior managers and their families allegedly benefitted personally from Eskom contracts; and

• Eskom failed to ensure competitive tendering processes for the delivery of coal to its power stations, which meant that the cost of delivering coal was almost half of what the coal itself cost.

She said that the most telling line of the report states that “If management’s energies are centered on leveraging Eskom’s considerable buying power for self-interest, rather than to drive efficiencies, the notion that the tariff is not cost-effective loses credibility.”

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