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Eskom denies that it's hiding info from public

Feb 07 2017 18:38
Lameez Omarjee

Johannesburg – Reports that Eskom was trying to withhold information from the public by not releasing the Dentons report is not true, said chairperson Baldwin Ngubane.

Ngubane was speaking at a briefing at Eskom's Megawatt Park, Johannesburg on Tuesday. The power utility clarified reasons why it had not released the report on the investigation by the global law firm Dentons, which was concluded in 2015.

The investigation was launched to identify problem areas contributing to load-shedding at the time as well as delays in infrastructure projects.

READ: Eskom lifts lid on Dentons report

Ngubane explained that the report was not released as there were allegations made against certain people and companies, who have been named in the report. This information had not been corroborated at the time the investigation was concluded.

“You cannot go and just publish people’s names and companies because someone has made an allegation. This was not an accusatory process. It was a fact-finding process,” he said.

Ngubane said the power utility was initially “committed” to make the report public, but at the time of completion in July 2015, the board considered  that releasing the report would have “exerted aggravated pressure” on the “already stressed business”.

The decision to release the report to the public, provided they apply through the framework set out by the Promotion of Access to information Act (PAIA), came about as Eskom felt it was in its best interests.

ALSO READ: Public must apply to see Dentons report - Eskom chair

The report will be released to members of the public, who applied to see it, these being South Africa History Archive, certain journalists, and DA shadow minister of public enterprises Natasha Mazzone.

Company secretary, Suzanne Daniels, explained that any member of the public can request to see the report to the extent that it is within the framework of PAIA.

“We will consider the merit of the application and respond accordingly,” she said.

Due to the names mentioned in the report, some of these being third parties, they should be given the opportunity to consider how the report will affect them, said Daniels.

“The report provided will have names black-lined for us to issue necessary notices to individuals. They have the right to give us their view and it is Eskom’s obligation to consider that,” she added.

Dentons investigation halted

The investigation was cut short as Eskom felt Dentons' findings and recommendations were sufficient to implement a turnaround strategy.

“We made a trade-off, fix the organisation as quickly as possible or drag out the investigation,” said Ngubane.

Continuing the investigation would continue to demoralise the staff, he noted.

Ngubane said the power utility decided to save its resources. "We did not curtail the investigation for nefarious reasons.”

He added: “Our trade-off paid off for country and Eskom because we used the recommendations to implement a turnaround strategy.”

However a representative from Dentons, South African managing partner Noor Kapdi, said that the firm was prepared to continue the investigation as there were areas that warranted further probing.

He explained that it is the client’s prerogative to require further investigation.

Noor confirmed that there was no “sanitisation” of the report, echoing Ngubane’s statement that neither he nor any members of the board had “tinkered” or “interfered” during the fact-finding investigation.

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